Today is my 60th birthday. After typing that, I had to stop and re-read it, and let it sink in.
When I was a kid, people who were 60 were really old. My parents seemed pretty old when they were 60 (they actually always seemed pretty old to me, no matter how old they were). But I don’t think I’m as old as they were at 60. I don’t think I’m as old as they were at 40. I usually feel pretty good, and I eat good food and I exercise. I work at a fun job; actually, several fun jobs. Plus, everyone in my family is older than I am; I’m the youngest. And if I’m 60, then that means my siblings are really getting up there, and they don’t seem that way to me.
However, in the middle of all this age-denial, there are certain realities I can’t escape. My daughter is 29. Twenty-nine stinkin’ years old. With a kid that old, I have to be getting up there as well. I have a lot of gray hair; and by a “lot,” I mean that out of the small amount of hair I have, a high percentage of it is gray. I hate almost every song written past the early 90’s, and that’s being kind of generous. I make a sound when I get up from a chair, and a different sound when I get into it.
I can still play music and people still want to hire me, but that world is also changing. I can’t ever seem to get the monitor levels right anymore; the sound guy usually does exactly what I ask him to do, but my ears have become a little inconsistent. It’s either too quiet (“I can’t hear the piano at all!”), or everything is just too much (“can we please turn ALL the monitors down?”)
So I have mixed feelings about turning 60, but what can I really do about it? I have to keep going. I have to face the fact that I’m old enough to save money at Denny’s. I can still play good music, but I’m usually going to be playing it with people younger than I am – unless it’s jazz music, where I’m still one of the younger guys in the room, thank goodness. People are going to routinely ask me when I’m going to retire. My daughter is going to keep asking me every day how I’m feeling. People at church are going to keep saying, “we really appreciate your wisdom,” which is another way of saying, “we should probably find out what an old guy like you thinks before we make this decision.”
Anyway, 60 is here, like it or not. I’m not going to pretend to be younger; that always just looks silly. But there are a few “old guy” things I’m going to avoid.
I’m not going to always talk about how I’m feeling physically. Nobody really wants to hear about my internal situation all that much. And even though I think all music written past the early 90’s is crap, I’m going to be careful to not always SAY that all music written past the early 90’s is crap. That makes me sound like one of those “get off my lawn” guys. And of course, along with that, I’m not going to tell people to get off my lawn.
More important than what I’m NOT going to do, here are the things I AM going to do.
I’m going to keep going to Uganda, and doing other things that actually matter and make the world better, instead of griping about stupid things that don’t matter. Not that I know anyone who does that. I’m just saying.
I’m going to keep exercising.
I’m going to keep growing as a musician (just not any of the crap written after the early 90’s).
I’m going to keep growing as a Christian (just not any of the crap people started believing after the early 90’s – HA, just wanted to keep that joke going).
I’m going to keep working with people younger than I am (because most people are younger than I am).
So that’s it. I guess I’m 60 now. I have a few friends who made it to that number a little before I did, and they’re assuring me it’s not that bad. At least I’m not 70!