Tag Archives: aging

What The Old Won’t Tell You

The Old Couple

The grandfather looks like a Czech version of Robert De Niro, as he sits across the table from us quiet except for the jingle of the spoon in his glass of Fruko Schulz.

A gold tooth catches the light from the chandelier, and for a moment, there is a disco in the china cabinet where the Bohemian crystal catches it in a myriad of sharp angles and throws it around with all the predictability of a beach ball at a concert.

The wife makes drinks in a plastic measuring cup and offers us cold cuts and apricot cookies.

The mother sits across from De Niro father looking not just cross but physically uncomfortable, but we didn’t yet know she had spent the last 18 hours in the hospital with kidney stones.

Continue reading What The Old Won’t Tell You

Read this on the eve of your 40th birthday –

In a year you will be 40.

It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. How many Sunday School stories did you hear about Moses getting the call at 40 and Joshua leading a nation by 40?

Try not to think about it too much, okay? The next 10 years will fly by, and you’ll be staring down the throat of 50 in no time.

I just have a few things I want to tell you.

When you were 20, you didn’t know your left from your right, so you married someone who could help you find the way.

At 30, you still didn’t know what you wanted to be, but you were a father, and that was all that mattered.

Yes, you’re on the cusp of 40, but now you know what you want to be.

So do it. No more excuses.

You’ve lived your whole life for this moment. Everything you’ve experienced, every country traveled, every city you’ve explored and every person you’ve met is a story.

You have written millions of words in preparation for this.

You know exactly how you want to spend the rest of your life.

You’ve always believed age is just a number, and I’m just here to remind you of that. But I’m also here to remind you that it was never about you.

It was about her and them.

You’re part of a unit, part of something bigger than yourself. Remember this when you are 40.

Your legacy is 14, 11 and 6. Put your heart and soul into it, because it has a lot of growing to do. 

Stop sweating the small stuff. Stress is a waste of your life.

Eat sensibly, exercise as much as you can. You know you like it.

Give yourself a break once in a while. Especially from the social media.

Work hard on the things that benefit others. Make an impact on the ground. That’s how you leave your mark.

The next decade could be the best of your life. You’ll know more than you did before, you might even experience wisdom. But practice spirituality first.

Explore more. You own the weekends. And they were not made for couches and television.

Meet new people. Write your stories.

Find the truth. Tell it to others.

Love more.

Happy Birthday, old man.

The Crisis of Time –

Just passed the three-month mark in Chicago. No matter how old I get, I continue to be blown away at how fast time seems to pass. The plans we make never equal the time in which our minds imagine they can happen. To that end, there were a few beach trips we didn’t take, a visit to the zoo, just a few untried restaurants, downtown streets and parks unexplored and neighbors unmet. I don’t know if it’s the relatively short stays in our previous locals or the general march of time, but we have always suffered from a desire to do too much in too little time. Or the realization that we did not do enough with the time we had. This leads to suffering regret, and I detest suffering regret. Maybe it’s the west or the familiarity of youth, but I know very well the list of undone things even in my own hometown.

The peaks unclimbed, the trails not hiked, the lakes and rivers not fished, the beaches where no sandcastles were built. All of those things were infinitely possible in the span of time I spent there in Cascadia. But I don’t regret the things I did instead. Those things shaped my life. No, I did not enjoy the solitude of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness or the view from Three Fingered Jack. But I did enjoy the benefits of the company of good friends, the hard lessons of childhood and the delights that come with living in a place with no thought of leaving on the horizon. Illinois is my fifth state, a tiny number really, but more than a great many people will see. And even though we moved here to give the kids a more settled lifestyle, there is in me a desire to try and experience it all, just in case the clouds fall again. Maybe it’s a product of being laid off in a bad economy from a dying industry. If that will not make you jumpy, nothing will. The thought of staying home on a weekend and doing nothing but watching some football, making good food and enjoying life is appealing to me in ways my adventurous nature kind of abhors. Is it age? Wisdom? laziness? I have a desire for permanence now that I have not felt before. Just as you might live in Alaska always prepared for the ground to shake under your feet, I still think about fault lines and magnitudes a lot. I was never a Boy Scout, but I have tried to live always prepared. Maybe it’s the wanderlust of my upbringing by missionary parents. When your life looks like a National Geographic magazine, the domesticity of the American Midwest makes life look like it’s lived at the slow crawl of a glacier by comparison. And as much as I always dreamed of seeing the things my father told us stories about, I find that I’m more fascinated by the untold stories next door to me or in the heart of this big, old city these days. And still time passes, and you realize that experiences will never add up to the amount of words you can write about them and analyze them with and carry them into the lobe of memories. Tim