Monday, September 27, 2010

When I'm 54

You remember this Beatles song off the Sgt. Pepper album? Will you still need me / will you still feed me / when I’m 64? The dude was a little worried about getting old. Well, I’m not 64, but yesterday I turned 54. I have no memories as a kid of ever thinking about getting this old. I do remember once, in fifth-grade, the teacher asked us to do the math to figure out how old we would be in the year 2000. My calculations told me I would turn 44 that year. That was ten years ago, and I don’t think I ever thought about being a day older than 44. And even then, I didn’t think about 44 for long; I was more interested in recess and lunch and the blond girl named Ann a couple of desks over.

Yet here I am at 54: that’s half-a-century plus 4; that’s 11 years short of the standard retirement age of 65; that’s an age where you are sometimes the oldest guy in the room; that’s an age where you find yourself married to a grandma; that’s an age where the wild eye brows and ear-hair that start sneaking up on you in your 40s mount an all out attack; that’s an age where you talk more with your spouse—not because you have more to say but because you have to say everything twice because of gradual hearing loss for the both of you; that’s an age where the annual visit to a doctor means he does something with a glove and his finger that’s not going to make the day of either one of you; that’s an age where you grew up in a very different world than the one you live in now; that’s an age where you’re beginning to have almost as many friends in heaven as you do on earth; that’s an age where you see more of your life in the rearview mirror than you do in the windshield.

Some of you reading this are chuckling right now, thinking to yourself, “Fifty-four? Why I can’t even remember 54. The boy’s still a pup.” (Thank you for that, by the way.) Still, while I may be a pup to some, I’m Papa to my grandkids, and I’m my kids’ old man.

Someone once described the four ages of a man: he believes in Santa Claus; he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus; he looks like Santa Claus. Thankfully, I’m just a stage three Santa. But, if I live long enough, stage four is on the way. I’ve been blessed with good genes, I guess, because most people tell me that I don’t look my age—which is either a compliment on my looks or a disparagement of my age. I still have plenty of the red hair I was born with (a little less on the crown but pretty thick everywhere else). My hair is turning a bit in its color however. My wife tells me it’s turning gray. The lady who cuts my hair says it’s turning blond. I told my wife that I hate to disagree with her but that I was compelled to believe the view of my haircutter because she’s a professional. So my hair’s turning color a bit and I’ve got a few more wrinkles around the eyes. But stuff like that happens when you’re 54.

All in all, however, I’m in pretty good shape for the old man I’m becoming. I eat smarter than I have in my whole life. I work and play at keeping fit too. Fact is: thanks to FBC Fitness, P90X, and Insanity, I’m in the best shape of my life. Just to prove it to myself, last night before I went to bed, I dropped to the floor (on purpose—you have to clarify that statement at my age) and knocked out my age in pushups. That’s right—54 pushups on my toes, without a break, the last six harder than heck but I touched my chest to the floor on all six! Booyah!! I went to tell my wife, and she said, “Oh yeah, let’s see you do 54 pull ups.” (Did I mention that she's becoming more of a smart-aleck in her old age?) So I told her that I could easily do 54 pull ups, that I’ve done well more than 54 pull ups many times, but that it would take me 5 sets to get them done. Shoot—I may just do that today to spite her. And I plan on doing something else too: I’m going to run (jog, that is) 5.4 miles as another little fitness test at 54—not 54 miles now, but 5.4 (never has a decimal point been more important). I guess I'm in agreement with the guy who said, "I’d rather wear out than rust out." I guess I’m trying to stay young.

But it’s not because I fear aging. I fear weakness. I fear dependence on others. But I don’t fear the aging process itself. So far, I find mostly humor in it. Danny Gokey sings in a popular song: “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number.” (Have you ever noticed how young people find that very easy to say?) But he's right: age is really nothing but a number, and whether that number for me is one year or thirty years more, I’m not going to fret it or sweat it. I’ve had plenty of good years, more than a lot of folks, and for all I know, as Gokey also sings, maybe “my best days ahead are ahead of me.” But whether my days and years ahead on this earth are good or hard or whatever they may be, I’m going to deal with them just fine because my very best days await me yet when my body gives out and I wing my way to heaven. I owe that to Jesus (who only had 33 years on the earth) and what He did for me in His cross and resurrection. And knowing that helps me live whatever years, and whatever kind of years, I have left with confidence. It's very comforting to know I’ve got a safe place to fall when I drop to the floor for the last time in this world.

So here I am at 54. And here's my prayer: "Thank you, God, for 54 years. If you take me today I have not been cheated; I have only been blessed. So thanks for 54." Sure, I’ve got some regrets, and I’ve also got some plans. I want whatever years I have left to count for something larger than myself. I want to have a lot of fun in the process. And when I stand before God, I pray I’ll hear Him say something like this: “Welcome home, old man. You lived a faithful life. You did pretty well. And you left it all on the field.”


  1. Happy birthday, your ancient eminence. It took you almost half a year, but you finally caught up...

  2. Happy Birthday! Great message on Sunday.

  3. Wonderful blog. Thank you for the inspiration, and the fun way to look at aging!