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The Musings Of A Man Waving Goodbye to Middle Age

Middle age? How many 114 year old guys do I know, after all?

It’s a good thing I no longer eat cake. The number of candles that would have to be lit to illuminate my birthday cake today would require a stand-by fire engine and crew. And though my lungs are healthy, it’s doubtful I could blow that many candles out in the course of a day, let alone in one breath.

As of today, I have survived more than five and a half decades on this lovely and intriguing planet. I have lived to become the editor of a small town publication, something I have always dreamed of doing. I am married to a brilliant, beautiful and extremely kind woman. I am an active musician. And there is enough food in the house to get me through the next couple of days. My blessings are indeed bountiful.

But, being human, I don’t live in the blessings. I live in the what-ifs and if-onlys. For instance, what if that food runs out and something happens to my job and there isn’t enough money to buy more for the rest of the week? Or, if only I hadn’t said that unskillful thing to someone last week and caused them to hate me for the rest of their lives.

Or: man, am I old. I can’t possibly have that much time left. And I certainly don’t have much energy to do the things I have left on my list.

It’s strange, the things we don’t learn over the years. I spend hours a day worrying over things that never, ever come to pass. I have conversations in my head with people that never come close to taking place in real life. I fret and frown and fuss my way through the days, certain that doom is just a few ticks away, and that it is all because of something I have, or haven’t done, or not done.

I will worry over the fact that I haven’t washed my car, to the point where all the energy I could have spent washing the car is used up worrying about it. I will put off paying bills until the delay costs me more money in late fees. I will focus on someone’s reckless driving to the point where my own driving becomes impaired, because I’m no longer focusing on the road, but on the bad driver.

All of this goes on while, in my actual life, great things happen each minute. The abundance and good fortune abound, the gifts are many, the world turns and, though I am just a miniscule bit in the wonder and grace of it all, I get to share in the beauty and bounty that is everywhere.

If only I could see it.

My birthday wish is this – now that I am a year older, I hope to gain at least a little bit of wisdom and be able to see past the constructed and false fears and doubts that keep me from relishing the miracles each moment brings with it.

Or, if nothing else, to at least lighten up a little bit.

That’s my birthday wish. But it probably won’t come true. After all, I don’t eat birthday cake any more, so there are no candles to blow out. 

Kayleen Parks November 14, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Happy birthday Jim. Perhaps, in light of your article, the phrase " Older and/or wiser" captures the spirit? I'm wishing for "and".
Chris Kapsalis November 14, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I never calibrate my birth date. Maybe because of denial. What I should do is look for "free on your birthday stuff" online and spend the day collecting things for free. Thanks for PatchMartinez Jim, you have many good years left and Happy Birthday.
cameron mccord November 14, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Well said, Jim. Happy birthday. Thankfulness is the foundation of happiness.
Laurie Fahy November 14, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Love this Jim - Happy Birthday to you! Looking forward to reading your articles for another five and a half decades! Have a great week~
Carolyn November 14, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Happy Birthday and thanks alot for the "Patch".
Ahmad "Allen" Saelan November 14, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Happy birthday,Jim. We never met, but I know you quite closely. Thank you for letting me enjoy your writing (Ahmad "Allen" Saelan of Indonesia)
Delphine lopez November 14, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Happy Birthday Jim, you are the same age as I am and I went to coaches soccer camp this year to learn to be a soccer coach for my U14 daughter's Pleasant Hill/Martinez team and our team went on to win first place at the AYSO U14 championship. It is never too late to learn a new skill and my daughter was very happy to have her mom for a coach. Age is wisdom.
Scott Williams November 14, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Happy Birthday Jim, and thanks for a moment of presence over my morning oatmeal. Seems we're surrounded by miracles all the time and just don't see 'em. Hell, we both woke up this morning! Another is your voice at Patch. Thanks
Ann Scott November 15, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Happy Birthday, Jim. Miracles are all around you, as Scott said. And...if it helps...you're not a year older you're only a day older! One day at a time...it really helps disperse the angst.
Pat Keeble November 15, 2011 at 06:19 AM
Jim, since I have a couple of decades on you I'm not going to pander to your fears. You're just a kid! If you wake up each morning on the right side of the grass, just try to ignore the little aches and pains of getting out of bed and move! Don't dwell on the little stuff. Aging has many joys that are unimaginable by the young! As the Brits said in WWII, "Keep Calm and Carry On"! Relax and enjoy!
Anne Mobley November 15, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Happy birthday, Jim. I totally thnk I am on the same page, although a bit older. I hope you are married to an optimist like I am because it balances us. As we look back on our lives, I am sure you can agree that life is better with a wonderful partner in which to share our futures with. God bless you, my friend. Let's hope we live long enough to create more wonderful memories.
David Parks November 15, 2011 at 08:56 PM
I'm there right with you, Jim. I suppose all that hiding under the desk during H-bomb drills warped our sense of worrying. But, as you aptly point out, we have what we need today. The rest is gravy (oops... well, some kind of special treat you can eat).
Jim Caroompas (Editor) November 15, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Thanks to everyone for their kind and thoughtful wishes. Every one of them made me feel like a kid again.
Katie November 16, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Hi Jim, So, I'm a day late, but I had to wish you Happy Birthday and thanks for the great column. I too need a frequent reminder of what is wonderful in my life, because I tend to waste a lot of energy on what might be or could be better-- and really I have a lot. So it is all about how I/we look at things,isn't it. So here's to each day and all that's good. Katie

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