Camp Connell, CA -- Turning 70 years old has some advantages, and I've been looking for them.
(The downside is boring and nobody wants to hear about it.)
The upside is pretty darned good.
Here are ten top reasons 70 isn't so bad.
1. I'm still here.
2. Most of my parts are intact and in workable condition.
3. Pat still finds me amusing and tolerable and lovable.
4. My children are close by and tolerant of my eccentricities.
5. My grandchildren like me most of the time and act like I am important to them.
6. There are still things that I can do that may make a contribution to others, and at the very least does not do any harm.
7. Old friends get better and more important through the years. (You know who you are.)
8. New friends are a gift, a surprise and a joy. (You know who YOU are.)
9. I am surrounded by beauty every day. That includes Pat, the conifer forest, sun, water, snow and friends.
10. God is still working on me. I am not yet what I may someday be.
The list could, and does, go on much longer.
When I begin to grump about doctor appointments or bills or politicians, I remind myself that the good stuff has pretty much always outweighed the bad in my life.
I am no Pollyanna. I can worry myself into a snit as quickly as anyone. When people I love are sick, or out of work, or in need, or stressed, that bothers me.
The collapse of the real estate bubble and the stock market hurt our family too.
But in the long run, that doesn't amount to much.
The movie "Little Big Man" included the perfect metaphor for my limited experience with aging.
Martin Balsam played a snake oil salesman who befriends Dustin Hoffman's character. They keep running into each other through the passing years. At one point a drunken Hoffman looks up from the gutter to see a cheerful but older Balsam looking down at him from the wooden sidewalk. Balsam is wearing an eye patch, is missing a leg, uses crutches and has various other parts missing or scarred. He is battered by life.
A concerned Hoffman asks, "How ya doing Doc?"
And Balsam responds, "Well, they're whittling away at me but they ain't got to me yet." He departs cheerful, and visibly unaffected by life's scars, off to seek another adventure.
What to do next?
As I start this eighth decade I plan to take the advice of my late friend and pastor Don Nelson who was asked by another friend what he should do when beset by doubts and fears and concerns.
When nothing else seems to work, Don told him, "go to work in the vineyard."
There are always things that need doing, people who need what you offer. Do that and the rest of those worries and concerns will fade or even disappear.
So Pat gave me the perfect birthday gift: a firefighter/trailworker's tool called a McLeod.
It's perfect for creating a clear path ahead.