Thursday, October 01, 2015

50 is the new,,,oh Hell, 50 is still old.

As I sneak up on my 50th birthday, certain things are becoming sharper in their focus.

Time; which once seemed in infinite supply, seems more finite, much like my patience.

Purpose; which I once thought would somehow find me, seems to be lost, and without a GPS and distracted by pretty flowers.

And lastly Relationships; trying to sort out the ebb and flow of people in and out of my life.

Let's start with time. Time is a constant. It flows like a river, free of any restrictions as it marches unencumbered to its destination. There is no damming its path, no constricting its volume. It will follow the path of least resistance and we are powerless to stop it. Much like the growth of the federal government.

I like to think of time as the $5 bill I received as a birthday gift when I was around 7 or 8. For a child, (back in the early 70s anyway) $5 was an enormous amount of money. I remember getting that $5 bill and heading to the Oak Run Store with my friend Johnny. This was back when a candy bar was .25 cents, or maybe they just went to .35 cents, it's hard to remember. Anyway, we bought an obscene amount or sugar laden food items, which included a box of chocolate-covered, marshmallow pinwheel cookies.

We ate the entire box on our walk back to his house. By the end of the day, we had eaten enough candy to make ourselves miserably sick and I still had about $1.75 left.  Later that week I went with my mom to town where I bought some football cards (I was never a big baseball fan until later) and maybe a MAD magazine or two. My point being, the five dollars was gone and I had very little to show for it.

I think back to my teenage years, my 20s, even my 30s and wonder what my life would look like today if I spent less time chasing after pinwheel cookies and focusing on something of greater value? Who knows, if I'm not careful, I may look back on my 50s and wonder what the hell was I doing with all that extra time as well.
I wish I could take some of that time back. But I can't; it's gone. Spend your time wisely people. Spend it with the ones you love. Spend it doing what you love. In the end, it's your most valuable asset. 

Purpose. What is my purpose in life? If anyone knows, please feel free to let me in on the secret.

As I get older, I start to wonder if there is anything more important than figuring out my purpose on this spinning blue orb circling the M class star in the middle of our Milky Way galaxy.

For me, the easy answer, being a Christian, (and a terrible one at that) is to live the way Jesus would want me to. To love Him above all else, and love others as much as I love myself. Most of the time, I find this to be an impossible standard to live up to. It would be easy to give up and say, "Lord, you know what weak material I am made of, can't I just try to be nice to most people and not kill anyone?" I find these are the one-sided deals we pretend to make with God.

We always try to change the rules to fit our lives, and to keep ourselves as comfortable and safe as possible. That isn't what Jesus called us to do. We are to follow Him. There will always be risk, pain, and conflict when you follow Jesus; it's a certain as the turning of the earth. The reward? A truly priceless, yet free gift, given to us as a debt paid in full.

Is it worthy of my best effort? You bet it is. Even as I know I will always fall short, I will get back up and try to do better tomorrow.

I have other purposes that I am committed to, as a husband, father, friend, employee, etc.  I hope I have lived up to these endeavors, and pray I will continue to grow and learn as I get older. In all these things, what I always strive for in everything I do, is to help people. I know I'm not going to change the world, but if I can help a few people along the way, I would be satisfied with that. Make a difference, even a small one.

Relationships are tricky. I must admit, I am not very good at them.

I'm not sure if it was my semi-solitary upbringing on the ranch, or it's just the way the Lord created me, but I am content when I am by myself. It's not that I don't like crowds, or parties, or being with friends. I do. However, I am just as happy alone with my thoughts. Sometimes that comes across the wrong way to people, and I apologize. While I am outgoing, and can make friends easily, I am not very good at cultivating and growing those friendships. My best friends are the people I sometimes don't talk to for months at a time, but when we do talk, we pick up right where we left off. I should work on this. I will try.

As far as being a husband, I am far from perfect. You can ask my wife; she knows. I don't consider myself to be malicious or do anything to try to be hurtful or careless. I think mine are mostly errors of omission. Having been married for twenty seven years, there are many times I take my wife for granted. I get wrapped up in me, and what is going on inside my head and forget that she is the other half of this partnership. Her thoughts, feeling and concerns should be just as important to me as mine. I could write a book on all the dumb things I have done in our marriage, but let's just say, I love that woman to pieces and thank the Lord for her all the time.

I have written about my children on many occasions, and whatever I said still goes. (I think, I'll have to go back and read it again)

I am so proud of each one of them. Steven is a kind, thoughtful soul. He is intelligent, talented and will always do the right thing. Abbie has grown into wonderful young woman. She is hard working and kind. She is smart and funny, and has a goofy side to her that I think she gets from me. As talented as Steven is with a guitar in his hands, Abbie is equally talented on horseback. They follow different passions, but they both love what they do and it is joy to watch them. If I can only get Abbie to breathe when she rides in competition; I'm afraid she will pass out one of these days.

All in all, I have no right to complain. The first fifty years have had some wonderful highs, gut wrenching lows, and a lot of time somewhere in the middle. I am more than content to have my faith, my family, and my friends.

To quote Eddie Vedder,
"Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love.
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they've got none, uh huh."