About a month ago, I celebrated my 78th birthday with my young wife in attendance, and quietly gave thanks for making it this far. I'm certain that she had much to do with this accomplishment, given her eternal optimism and abiding belief that everything is going to “turn up roses.”
So, what is life like as a Septuagenarian? All things considered, my life is rather good. I'm married to a wonderful woman, we are both in good health for our ages, and our income is adequate for our needs. Additionally, we have very little debt, we reside in a nice home in a good neighborhood, we live close to our adult children and grandchildren and we have a close circle of friends.
My life — especially during the past 15 years — has changed in many different ways. It's been a metamorphosis, evolving slowly as parts have been renewed, others left behind, a left turn here, and a right shift soon after, a passage from one form or stage to another, a belief no longer held, and an experience that challenged my view about many things.
The things that were important to me then, at the beginning of a new millennium, seemed almost unattainable: to live an abundant life, enjoy good times with my wife as well as with family and friends, stay active and enjoy good health, travel the world and engage in lifelong learning.
While we are not exactly living an opulent life, money is less important to me now. We've reduced our overall debt, and don't need to buy "stuff" and join the ranks of conspicuous consumers. Renting at our age makes a lot more sense than taking on another mortgage, and one credit card is sufficient for our needs.
Though Paula, my wife, and I are in good health, travel is one area that has frustrated us. The type of world travel we are seeking is quite expensive. A river cruise through Europe, a visit to Great Britain and Ireland, South America, a Caribbean cruise, China and the Far East are all on our wish list. For now, we will have to limit our travel to the good 'ole USA, and specific trips in Canada and Mexico.
Learning — reading, taking classes, exploring new ideas — has been a lifelong pursuit. My bucket list includes a goal to read the top 100 Classics before I leave this planet. Lately, my learning has been more spiritual and metaphysical rather than traditional; I’ve been especially attracted to Eastern faiths like Buddhism and Taoism. The writings of Lao Tzu have been very important in adding valuable content to my lifelong learning.
Since about 1980, I've been involved in religious science and the Unity Church. My education has never stopped, my questioning has increased with time and my beliefs keep on being challenged. Politics occupies a great deal of my thinking, especially since the recent election of Donald Trump. I've become a rather ardent activist in resisting his reactionary agenda!
The balance of my life will be devoted to living up to, as best I can, the last two subjects that are important to me: to be the change that I want to see in the world and to live everyday to its fullest.
So, at my advanced age, I am being the change that I want to see in the world by supporting causes, involving myself in issues that advance progressive political and social programs, standing for immigration reform, marching for peace, fighting for gender issues and election reform, advocating for free public education through college and endorsing diversity in race, religion and sexual orientation. My focus in the coming years will be less about political parties and candidates, and more about great issues. However, I will allow myself to speak about our current political landscape, and my resistance to the current occupant in the White House.
To live everyday to its fullest has been a challenge for me. All my life, I've been so damn goal-oriented, and in the process I have missed out on the essence of life. While I had more than enough goals, I really didn't have a purpose in life. Regardless, life has taught me to value other things instead: memories, relationships and a simple life.
At this point in my life, I've decided my purpose — inspired by a biography on Robert F. Kennedy — is to contribute and make things better. It’s imprecise but flexible, allowing me to create without limitations.