I turned 57 the other day. No big deal, even though 57 is widely recognized as a serious milestone.
I’m sure if you “Google” it, you’ll find all sorts of articles and blogs where “Baby Boomer” folks like me wax philosophic about the big 57. My generation has always been gifted when it comes to navel-gazing about things that don’t matter.
Truth be told, I seemed to skid right on past the big event with barely a bump in the road. That may have been because my math skills are nonexistent. I spent a good bit of last year sitting on the fence between 56 and 57, literally and figuratively. I was fairly confident that I was one or the other.
But just to set my mind at ease and to stay razor sharp mentally, from the top of the fence I stopped a couple or three times to do a little math (the only kind I ever do). Since I suspected that I was already 57, it was nice to discover that I was younger than I thought.
Yes, I did that several times. You’re right, of course. I should have just written it down—scrawled “56” in big letters on a Post It note and then stuck the sticky in the stacked up “leaning tower” stack of those notes I collect to keep me right on top of important events.
It’s a pleasure to dig down through that sticky pile just often enough to get to throw away the half of the notes connected to monumental events that have already happened that I can now forget about. And it’s gratifying to know that I’ve saved time and been ahead of the game by forgetting about them already, long before a less gifted forgetter could have been expected to forget about them. A guy who can’t remember if he is 56 or 57 is world-class talented in the “forgetting” category.
I guess I also forgot to be alarmed by the fact that I kept forgetting the result of my math. I’ve been too busy living life and aging to worry much about aging.
But two things—make that three—cause me a little anxiety.
First, I’ve lived long enough to see styles returning that I thought had mercifully expired at the end of the seventies. Once around was more than enough, thank you. (I’m immensely thankful that our styles weren’t tattooed on.)
Second, I’m hoping that maybe a shaky season or two during my forties will count as a “mid-life” crisis. It’s not only too late to go through one now—I can’t spare the time—the math worries me. If I had one now, at 57, would “mid-life” indicate that I’d have to hang around until I’m 114? I’ve got far better things to do and a much better place to be.
Third, though there is no doubt at all that the best thing about being 57 is getting to jump into a second childhood with your grandchildren, those little grandfolks are starting to grow too tall. I’m afraid my heart will break if the magic fairy princess castle out in our back yard ever turns back into just a shed.
What’s “too old”? It’s when your imagination withers and your heart starts to calcify. No wonder the Eternal One hugged children and said that the way to be saved is to be like them. At any age.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at