It's my birthday tomorrow. I'll be a super-young 73, using my personal definition of super-young.
(I'm reading a humorous book about growing older -- Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old -- that says two answers to the question "When does old begin?" are "Old age is my current age +4" and "Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Never today.)
At any rate, I'm in pretty good shape. As evidence I present this photo of me in the Big Meadow at Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon, where my wife and I own a 1/4 share in a vacation home. That's Black Butte in the background, a pleasingly extinct volcano.
My mother died at 73. But she was an alcoholic who didn't exercise much, smoked a lot her entire life, didn't eat very healthily, and suffered several strokes well before she was my age. She would have been much better off smoking marijuana rather than tobacco; sadly, cannabis legalization came too late for her, but in time for me.
So by comparison, I'm doing pretty damn well.
And even though I've only just started reading the book linked to above, it's encouraging that I've been able to avoid some of the stupid things the author advises old folks to avoid. Like, double-spacing after periods, which made sense in the age of manual typewriters but not today, and not using an AOL or Yahoo email address.
(I was an early adopter of Gmail. Sadly, though, another Brian Hines was an even earlier adopter, so I've had to make do with [email protected] while I wait for my namesake who doesn't need to use a number after his name to die and bequeath me his email address. Hey, I can dream.)
I guess I should try to come up with some philosophical wisdom to justify a Church of the Churchless blog post about my impending birthday.
Well, comparing current me with younger me, I'd say that the biggest change in how I view myself in relation to the universe is that I no longer am nearly as grandiose. Meaning, I used to believe that one day I'd be privy to the deepest mysteries of the cosmos.
Through all the daily meditation I did since 1970, and the guidance of an Indian guru, my consciousness would soar to higher regions of reality and I'd know divine secrets that other unenlightened souls could only dream of comprehending. Of course, I also was proud of my humility.
Now, my goal is to be able to remember for as long as possible how the three remote controls for our television, Apple TV, and DirecTV satellite receiver work together so I can continue to perform my manly duty of taking charge of our evening viewing of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming services.
Thus far, I'm handling all that with senior citizen technological perfection. Plus, I can make my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro function well (except when they don't, but then it's Apple's fault, in my own mind at least).
One of the best things about growing old is that you don't worry nearly as much about attaining grand milestones.
Maybe I'll write another book someday, but I'm fine with the four books I've already written. My wife and I have been married for 31 years. I'm much happier than I was in my 18-year first marriage, so there's no pressure to work on our relationship, though I've got work to do on loading the dishwasher the way Laurel likes.
I still go to three Tai Chi classes a week -- Tai Chi has been a part of my life for 17 years -- and work out at a gym three times also. However, I'm good with maintaining the weights I'm currently capable of lifting, while in my younger days I was always trying to handle heavier weights.
I guess this is part of life after 70.
You have a more realistic perspective. You grasp that if you can just keep on doing what you enjoy doing for as long as possible, that's plenty good enough. I want to make the world better insofar as I can. However, I don't expect that the fate of the world, the United States, Oregon, Salem, or our neighborhood in any way depends on me.
That said, every day I drive by about a hundred acres of farmland just north of our neighborhood that was slated to become a subdivision before my wife and I led a complex, costly, five-year fight to stop it because all those houses would have threatened our neighborhood wells and the springs that feed a community lake.
That successful effort taught me the value of doing concrete things in this physical world, rather than wasting time on religious imaginings of what a supposed supernatural realm might be like. Stopping the bulldozers was hugely more fulfilling than pretending I was a spiritual being destined for life in "heaven" (Eastern religion variety).
Anyway, these are my birthday eve thoughts. My wife just finished baking a birthday cake, so tomorrow evening will be devoted more to my stomach and less to my mind.