Do NOT let all the colors fade to gray just because your hair does.
Today’s title is a whimsical, coffee-flavored play on words. The content is a matter of life and premature death. I hope by the time you see “Loving you” at the close of this post, you’ll understand this is no hyperbole.
I was born on my mother’s 43rd birthday. Coming up through the grades and into high school, I always felt awkward when at a game or concert or play someone would point to my parents and ask, “Is that your grandparents?” Add to that the irritating tendency of my elder siblings to ‘parent’ me along with my own nieces & nephews, and you’ve a good idea why I felt somehow offset in Time, unsure of where I fit.
I was never ‘Dan’ to them. Y’know, like a brother? I was always ‘Danny’, and often ‘Little Danny’. I hated that nickname. Whenever I hear it, my mind is mugged by early memories it serves absolutely zero purpose to mention here. In ten days I turn 66, and there are still only a couple of people on the planet who can call me that.
You might be excused, then, if you surmise by this point in my life that I’m socially misshapen, a barely-functioning maladroit in the company of other normal people. The younger Dan would’ve likely said something like, “Well, if that’s what you think, then I probably am.” After all, I’m an introvert, and was an insecure one. The wiser of you know that doesn’t mean I’m a pushover and have nothing to say. It just means I hadn’t yet learned how to articulate my innermost feelings, nor had I found anyone I felt would listen to them.
Then God said, “Write.” This blog reflects what a difference both He and His gift have made in my life.
These things are here to make a point. Some of you know I’ve overcome that quite nicely, thanks. The point is, no matter what lies behind you, the way things are for you only remains that way until you decide it no longer will. Enter today’s third COFFEEOLOGY installment, “BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER.” What follows are some jewels I’ve gleaned from years of observing others, and recording my thoughts.
So–what things do I, a gray-haired great-grandpa, have to write to my brother and sister gray-hairs who were born back in the 50s?
- Fight for what and who you want. You still may not win, but you’ll be wiser and tougher for your next adventure. This thing isn’t over until we appear on Heaven’s porch. I’ve heard way too many 50-year-olds moaning, “I’m too old . . .” I always ask, “All things being equal, how much longer do you expect to live?” The usual answer is 20-30 more years. You know what? That’s another entire career! Go find something you’ve always wanted to do, and get after it! Remember the contract I’ve always had with my 2nd Cup readers: to lift, encourage, edify, and challenge to personal and spiritual excellence. ‘Fight’ here means to make your desires and dreams clear, to be stubbornly persistent until it’s plain something or someone else is in God’s plan for you.
- Refuse to use age or physical disability as any kind of excuse. I deal with both. The Carthaginian statesman and general Hannibal once said when faced with what seemed an insurmountable task, “We’ll either find a way or make one.” See, I grew up with parents who had lived through America’s Great Depression. I watched them either come up with a way to improve things, or make do with what we had until we could do better. It’s why I’ve always worked to have a cheery, positive outlook no matter what . . . I had excellent examples who at the time I never appreciated. Strong people rarely have had an easy past. I love the battle cry of the “old people” who won’t accept it can’t be done: “NEXT!”
- Make sure what you’re doing right now is getting you closer to where you want to be, and what you want to be doing, tomorrow. Do it now. At our ages, sometimes ‘latte’ really does become ‘never’. I’ve genetic longevity on both sides of my family, so even having cheated death at least 3 times I expect to live well into my 90s, if not beyond. I do not, however, take anything for granted. As an experienced hospital chaplain, I know better. Even if you’re forcing yourself to get adequate rest for what you’ve planned tomorrow, be purposeful about it. Be being busy. When you first see God, let His opening question be, “So, who do you suppose will finish that task?”
- Don’t be afraid of losing people. Be afraid of losing yourself, compromising your self-respect, by trying to please everyone around you. Life’s like an elevator. Sometimes you need to stop long enough to let some people off. This is tough. Yet as we age, we all become less willing to sacrifice our own peace of mind and well-being by mashing ‘Like‘ for people we either don’t know or would just as soon not. Our circle of close friendships tightens. To lose one of those is a serious thing ~ but it happens. Reasons rarely matter: all you know is they’re gone, there’s an unpatchable hole in your heart, and it’s time to move on. Grayhairs like us can’t go find lifelong friends like them. After all, it takes a lifetime to make those. Appreciate what you have before it turns into what you once had.
- Never compromise your personal standards and convictions out of convenience. Let God work. This can be tough. The older we get, the more we notice Time passing. To be young and alone leaves a few options. To be older and alone can be as bleak as the windblasted top of a New Mexico mesa. There’s a sobering difference between sitting in your recliner and listening to the breathing of someone else in your home, even if you don’t get along; and sitting in that same recliner with the only other sound the tocking of the carved wood grandfather clock with the chipped face, hanging in the next room by the entry door they’ll never again walk through. Sometimes the right path isn’t the easiest one; and sometimes it’s like trying to trim the toenails of a T-Rex. Age and loneliness is not a good trade for letting down your guard. God’s never failed to honor those who honor Him. He’s not about to start now.
- Take every opportunity to have fun. Fun never asks how old you are. Never let what you’re unable to do get tangled up with what you can do. I mean, we’re all mature until somebody breaks out the bubble wrap ~ right? Watching senior adults laughing it up and having a great time together is the greatest way I know to show their children and grandchildren it can (and should!) be done.
- Walk WITH the Light, not against it. This one needs no explanation. We’re not little kids. Right?
- Always be excited about the journey ahead of you! Almost every successful person begins and carries on with two beliefs: My future can be better than the present; and I have the power to make it that way. Don’t let aging or physical limitations talk you out of your dreams, for they’ll live on long after you’ve left here. They’ll just shift from Earthside to Home. As long as you’re here, God’s got something powerful, something wonderfully-fulfilling for you to be doing. Yeah–you! Get into the habit now of always having a mischievous spring in your step when you emerge from life’s backstage – even if a few things hurt and one or two other of your options have, um, voided your warranty.
I’d personally rather be completely exhausted from the hard times and stretching circumstances that breed success, than be well-rested from achieving nothing. Those of you who know me best understand I deal with this, too, on a basis so regular it’s pretty much a part of my ‘now’.
There you have it, then: the third in this five-part series on COFFEEOLOGY: BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER. To all my fellow gray-hairs who arise each morning with the grit and determination to keep overcoming and provide a steady, reasonably-mature influence over those coming behind? I’m grateful to you. Observing you, knowing you makes me even more empowered and intent on moving ahead with my eyes up and to the front.
All those jokes about youth and exuberance being no match for old age and treachery? You make me smile, because being around you makes me even more of a believer.
Thank you for your part in my journey.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.
Until God says otherwise, we both have a l-o-n-g way to go. Let’s see how much we can get accomplished.
© D. Dean Boone, September 2018