I just finished a 750 mile ride across Texas and New Mexico to attend a conference in Ruidoso, NM. I made the ride on my Harley. I know that is a long haul on a motorcycle. But it isn’t for me. I’ve actually made a bunch of 1000+ rides and a coast-to-coast roundtrip that was over 7,000 miles. And I rode alone.
The management staff in my company hate it when I take a bike trip. While I’m gone, they are certain I have too much “think” time. I always come back with a bunch of new ideas that I present to them and expect them to implement in our operations. It always means more work for them. They are certain this trip will be no different.
But it IS different — for several reasons. One is that while I have not just grown older during the 26 years of this company’s existence, I have learned more. They have as well. So what does that matter to this conversation? Even though they may not realize it yet, THEY REALLY DON’T NEED MY NEW IDEAS ANYMORE. As they have aged biologically they have aged in maturity — so much so they don’t realize the knowledge they have accumulated over 20 years. And on the most part, any “new” information they need, they probably have access to without any input from this old guy.
So what use is my 1500 mile roundtrip in my Harley “saddle” if I’m not thinking up new jobs for the managers? This trip has turned into a bunch of “think” time for ME, and no one else.
It seems I have crossed that age threshold that resulted in my enrollment in Medicare. July 2018 is the day when Medicare kicks in for me. And I got my Medicare card in the mail today. New realities have kicked in with that realization — chief being that now far more of my life is behind me than in front of me. In reality that was true when I reached age 45, but I at 45 still felt invincible. At 64 — not so much. But with understanding my human biology comes greater understanding of the meaning of all things in my life, and helps me successfully prioritize every aspect of my life.
I have always been proficient at setting priorities in my life. For that matter, I’m free at setting them for a lot of other people in my life! But doing so for their lives is not my responsibility. They really don’t care what I think anyway. (That’s something I’ve learned the last few decades!)
For the Generation X-ers and Millennials that are looking in, let me share how the prioritizations in my life have changed, and why:
- Success At 60+ the definition of success has drastically changed. At 20, the only thing that mattered was making as much money as possible along with all its trappings: fame, reputation, cars, homes, nice vacations, etc. At 60+, I’ve pretty much had all the success I’m ever going to have — time is not on my side for great new achievements. Success for me now is the successes for my children and their spouses, good health for my children (already been through a daughter with cancer) and grandchildren, building stronger ties with my existing friends, and re-affirming personal relationships with as many old friends and extended family members that through the years have been diminished by all kinds of things.
- My Health At 20, the only health issues I considered were looking good physically. At 60+, I’ve had multiple surgeries, 1 heart attack, weight gain and weight loss, 2 thumb joint replacements, several broken bones, and severe hearing loss. I have learned the hard way that how I look is not very important any longer. Avoiding major health issues is of high importance. I’ve watched as too many friends and peers have lost their good health — some by poor habits, excessive eating, and just giving up on working to keep their health good. Over the last 6 years I’ve lost about 100 pounds by first carefully planning food that I consume, and then adding exercise. I ride a bike 11 miles a day and ride aggressively. I have not felt as good as I do today in 20 years. I have faced my possible death several times and am no longer afraid of death. It is inevitable for us all. But I prefer when it comes that it will NOT be the result of my simply letting my health go voluntarily.
- Money I must write about money separately. It drove me. I made a lot of it, and lost a bunch too. I have always been generous and charitable from my heart. I genuinely love helping others. And I have enjoyed including those I love in the good things having financial success has provided. I was careful to make certain having money through the years didn’t change who I was. Carefully and deliberately I always responded to anyone who complimented my success giving God 100% credit for the opportunities that granted success. I always worked hard, always gave credit to those who contributed to those successes, and was always grateful — and still am. I learned at a young age that no one owed me anything. And money makes no one.
- Relationships My old boss asked me one day, “Who is coming to your funeral?” I was shocked, but after thinking for a minute responded, “My friends and family.” He said, “Then spend your life investing in theirs.” Nothing means more to me than relationships with my family members and friends. I invest accordingly. Sowing seeds into their lives was promised by God to allow me to reap the products from those seeds. This old guy tears up when any one of my 6 grandchildren come hug me and say, “I love you Poppi.” The oldest is 18. And they ALL do that every time we’re together. That’s MUCH better than money.
- The Rest. Honestly, nothing else really matters much today. Even though I am as busy as I ever have been, it seems days go slower, I see more things than ever before, and each day to me tastes as good as an Almond Joy. (Chocolate with coconut is my thing) What has changed most dramatically with the greatest impact is my loss of fear: fear of failure, financial disaster, losing relationships, and poor health. Fear left when it dawned on me that there is nothing I can do to change any of those. So I stopped fearing them. I breathe much easier now and smell more good things. I try to deal only with things I can directly impact while letting alone things I cannot change.
The doctor said my heart attack was 100% stress related. Most are. Peeling away stress like peeling an onion has been the key to my priortization. It brought the realization that turning 65 sure beats the alternative: assuming “room temperature.” But even that inevitability is OK now. God has it all under control. I’ll let Him do the worrying if there’s any necessary.
Next time you are going through a major worry/panic attack, stop for a moment and ask this question: “What difference will this make 100 years from now?” Probably none. Then why waste any of that good, positive life you have left dealing with something you can’t change? Just do the best you can, and relax.
God’s got this!