Fifty-plus

As I write this entry, my arms are outreached in gratitude for what I have seen, experienced and accomplished and for those accomplishments to come.

I sat across from my wife at dinner, I thought for a minute and said, “I like being over 50.” She looked at me and asked me what I meant. This August, the 28th to be precise, I will be exactly four years removed from the age of fifty.

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As I get older, I’m caring less and less about what people think of me. Of course, I still seek approval and validation to a certain extent. I don’t think that will ever go away, especially in this world we live in. I have traveled way too far down this road we call life to think about turning back now. Feeling regret, embarrassment, and anger while wondering if I did or said the right thing causes more stress and more anxiety. there is no time in my life for such time-wasters. I now fill my time with the things which make me happy. the other night I sat outside with my 25-y.o. son who miraculously still wants to spend time with me. We had an amazing conversation about our respective careers, disappointments, and life in general.

As I grow older, I find myself enjoying life more. I find myself having more energy for those things for which I feel a great deal of gratitude and for the beliefs, activities, etc. Which I have identified as “time wasters”, I have removed many of these things from my life. I continue to have little use for drama and chaos and spend a great deal of time

As I have spent some time thinking of this subject I became more interested and developed an interest in what some of the great thinkers have had on this topic. As always, I find myself returning to the journals and writings of thinkers such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman.

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Karl De Schweinitz in his 1924 “Guide to the Art of Living” said, “Living has yet to be generally recognized as one of the arts” and as with any art, mastery at it is only accomplished through hours of deliberate practice.

I found there is a strange thing which happens once we stop giving a fuck. I tell people I’m happy because I don’t give a fuck and they judge me and look down their noses at me. I gave a fuck for a lot of years and it got me tired, stressed, anxious and on medication to help manage the anxiety. I won’t refer to anxiety like so many others by saying “My anxiety” because it’s not mine. I didn’t walk into any store, pick anxiety from the shelf, pay for it and walk out of the store with it. It’s not mine! I don’t want it! I noticed the more I stopped giving a fuck, the more I liked myself; the happier I was. hell, I can’t do anything about 99% of the crap we all make a conscious decision to worry about anyway. So why put the energy into worrying and give it more power than it deserves. If you don’t like the way I live my life, I don’t give a fuck! Go ahead and judge. Let me know how happy that makes you and I’ll let you know how happy I am.

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I am grateful for the guides, the mentors from whom I have had an opportunity to share life experiences and learn new, different ways of doing things. Walt Whitman said, “Life doesn’t give you the people you want, it gives you the people you need: To love you, To hate you, To make you, To break you, and to make you the person you were meant to be.” So many of us become so easily hung up on the belief that Whitman’s quote should read the opposite. Many of us believe we should have the people we want in our lives. What we want does not equate to what we need. In short, it is important to ask ourselves about our life goals and then to ask if we have the resources to attain these goals. My kids, years earlier laughed at the few number of friends which I had. I, on the other hand never had a problem with the small number of people who were lucky enough to make it onto and remain for some time on my friend list. In order to make the cut, you need to make sure you have some value to me. I would also hope I have some value in your life. This is not to say that I use people, but that I do not have time for those people who will seek to thieve energy from me and leave me drained and without a thought in my own head. As Thoreau once said, I wish to live my life deliberately.”

I am thankful for these gifts, for the happiness in my life and for the people who helped me reach this destination.

Namaste

 

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Arriving in the Adirondacks

It was dark when we packed the truck with our gear. Backpacks, snowshoes, trekking poles and food for the long weekend ahead of us. Bleary eyed we headed out of the driveway, my thoughts about a hot cup of coffee and the weekend to be spent with my son. The Tim Hortons sign beckoned and the smell of coffee faintly tickled my nostrils. We pulled out of the drive-thru and pointed the truck North. I set the GPS so we would be able to tick away the hours until we reached our destination in the middle of the Adirondack Park.

The brief stop at the tool booth marked one small portion of our trip. I put the truck into gear and began the long trip down the NYS Thruway. I clicked on the cruise control and set the speed at 70 MPH. Stephen and I shared conversation about the coming trip; our excitement and anticipation growing with each passing mile. As we continued the interior of the truck grew quiet. I looked at Stephen and found him happily asleep. I smiled. His happiness and comfort was my happiness and comfort. Any remaining fear and anxiety rapidly melted away.

We were met with the familiar sign which welcomed our arrival to the Adirondack Park. I felt at home. The next stop was the lodge at Indian Lake.

We pulled into the parking lot and unloaded our gear. Dinner was made and consumed with zest. Nancy had packed chowder which she had made and froze several days before. We washed dishes and pots, made hot chocolate and settled in for a quiet, relaxing evening. A quiet knock could be faintly heard on the door. We looked at each other wondering who decided to visit in -25-degree temperatures. I twisted the door knob, pulled the door open and smiled as my eyes met those of Barry and his wife Kathryn. What a pleasant surprise. Barry and I shared a greeting of Namaste and we welcomed them into our humble lodging.

We sat and talked, smiled and laughed. We rekindled old friendships and made new ones. We discussed plans for the morrows hike and discussed the anxious anticipation of once more being able to strap snowshoes to our feet and enjoy the silence that is the Adirondacks.

Barry and Kathryn departed, our souls overflowing with joy. Stephen and I dressed warmly and wandered out into the cold night, snow crunching beneath our boots. We looked toward the heavens and marveled at the stars. Despite being many millions of miles away, they appeared within easy reach…ready to be plucked from the sky for safekeeping. Several streaks crisscrossed the sky; shooting stars. We both stood silently and marveled at the view. Our breath added another dimension to the night. When we could stand the cold no more, we retreated to the warmth and safety of our cabin, wrapped our hands around mugs of steaming hot chocolate, marshmallows floating on the surface like the stars we had just witnessed. All was right with the world.

I read and Stephen watched television, sleep beginning to creep into our consciousness. I looked at Stephen and found sleep had already found him. Sleep was rapidly encroaching on me. My head began to bob against my chest. I rose and went to my bed where I thought I might revisit my book. The thought was good but sleep would let this happen for only the briefest of times. Minutes later sleep swept over me and consumed me like a warm blanket. I drifted off with the happy thought that I was able to share this day with Stephen.

Namaste