This past Thanksgiving, I looked around the dinner table and saw everything that is good in my life. My wife, children, grandchildren and friends are the essence of what I care about. Jesus was at that table, too. I know how much God loves me because of the family He placed in my care. In the long-term view of the value of my life lived, everything else but this shrinks to insignificance.

While looking at my life through the eyes of a Thanksgiving “believer,” I can’t help but realize that without a relentless sense of humor my life would be considerably less joyful. I recently embarked on my 72nd orbit of our Sun riding the ‘Little Blue Marble’ we call Earth. Home to all of us. At this juncture, I can reflect upon the fact that my broad mind and narrow waist switched places decades ago. Fortunately, I can still laugh at myself. That gift inoculates my mental health. Try it if you haven’t.

I’m grateful that every day reminds me that I’m not as clever, smart, cool or suave as I think I am. That keeps me human and puts my life in context as I sonder amongst my earthly brothers and sisters. Realizing that most of us are rocketing through life at Mach 1 helps keep my own journey in proper perspective. In his book, Richard Carlson heartens us, “don’t sweat the small stuff — and it’s all small stuff.” Smart man.

Recently, I stood before a full-length mirror wearing a pair of shorts that went out of style back in the late ‘80s. With my self-esteem prepared for the worst, I slowly survey all that I have become. I am transfixed by what I see. Staring back at me is the unvarnished truth — I have morphed into a walking physics lesson. I realize that as a carbon-based lifeform living on a gravitational orb, there is only way for my formerly semi rock-hard body to go. Down. I am shrinking. Vertically, not horizontally. My body type is now “equatorial.” It should have zip codes. If I was a medieval knight, my jousting moniker would be Sir Cumference. Sometimes I do miss the glory days of my youth. When I remember them. 

Other septuagenarians may agree that reading the obituaries is a reality check as people our age “expire” every day. I never liked that term. I’m neither a warranty nor a credit card. My birth certificate doesn’t show an expiration date. I know. I checked.

Staying in shape at my age is a bit of a challenge too. As a start, I ordered a large “Blue Bell Only” bowl made of the finest lead money can buy. It weighs six pounds without ice cream. Eight pounds with. Good resistance training. In my quest for wellness, no price is too great. It’s the little changes that keep me healthy. I am committed.

Someone asked me the other day about cardio at my age. I was proud to reply to this youngster that I do cardio twice a day in the comfort of my own home. She appeared moderately impressed and asked, “split between treadmill and exercise bike?” “Nope,” I told her. “Split between CNN in the morning and MSNBC at night.” That’s about all my heart can take.

Since I’m in fairly good health for someone who shares his birthday with middle-aged oak trees, it can only be a result of my childhood experiences. I’ve fallen from numerous trees, garage roofs, skateboards and bicycles. I’ve taken a high-velocity shot from a ‘Wham-O’ slingshot and been pummeled with fireballs from a Roman candle. Even drank gallons of water through rubber yard hoses laying in 100-degree backyard heat. With friends, I would ride my bike behind the mosquito fogging truck ala “Superman” slicing through the “clouds.” Of DDT. I believe my body was “pre-disastered” by the time I was 10.

I always wondered about Superman though. Bad guys would fire five shots point blank into his chest as he stood statuesque, hands on hips, with a “that’s all you got?” smirk on his face. But when they threw the empty gun at him, he ducked. What’s up with that?

Okay, next stop — Christmas. Take time to enjoy what it means to you. And remember to thank God not only for your good blessings but for your abject failures, awful heartbreak, bitter disappointments and personal pain. Chances are, that’s the reason you are the person you are today. That in itself may be one of your greatest blessings.

And if you don’t believe in God, be grateful that He gave you free will so you can make that choice. Yep, He loves you that much.

Blessings to all.

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(1) comment

Mary Ann Carter

Sir, you have expressed, so eloquently, the thoughts that have crossed my mind as I make this journey through life. Each passing year, when I realize how many of my friends and family have made that journey to the next life, I am reminded of these things. What's really important, what's really lasting and how will I make decisions each day to stay on course. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, with all of us, who wish we had said them. Have Merry Christmas and keep your humor. I look forward to your next article.

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