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On turning sixty and being incredibly grateful

Come on ask me, I dare you!

Ask me how it feels to turn sixty. Ask me how it feels to have lived and breathed for twenty-one thousand, nine hundred and a handful of days…

Ask me how it feels to have lived and loved, to have witnessed life and death, to have fought, to have failed, to have lost, and to have won…

Ask me if I have regrets, ask me if there are things, I wish I could do over, mistakes I wish I could go back and correct, people I wish I could say sorry to…

Ask me what it is like to be there at the birth of a child and the death of a parent, and to have had to say goodbye way too soon…

Ask me how it feels to have laughed until I cried or cried until I laughed…

Come on, I double dare you. I know those are questions running through your own mind; I know those are the thoughts you have when you sit alone and reflect. How do I know? I just do!

As I look back, I am just amazed. I am filled with immense gratitude, with a sense of awe. After all, I made it this far.

I certainly won’t bore you with every highlight and every lowlight from my 31,556,952 minutes on this earth. It would make for a rather long and excruciatingly boring blaaaaawwwwg…

Instead, allow me to share the few lessons I have learned.

One lesson for each decade? Can we at least do that?

0-9  Be BRAVE – Leap before you look, get a few scratches and bruises and if that includes a few stitches so be it. Make friends with everyone. You can be little more discerning later in life. I am going to keep this one short coz most of you can’t read this anyway.

10-19 Be YOURSELF – Pressure from every angle, peer pressure, family pressure, school pressure. Everyone trying to mould you under the pretence of offering to guide you. Find your voice and find your space and cut a place for yourself in the world. But PS… Don’t be an arsehole: The world has enough of those already.

20-29 Be HAPPY – Someone once told me that your twenties are about the only time your income will exceed your expenses, you may as well enjoy it. It’s a time for falling in and out of love, maybe settling down but maybe not. This is YOUR time, spend it wisely. Don’t make too many bad decisions. You probably will make a few, but at least in your twenties, you can fix them.

30-39 Be RESPONSIBLE – Time to buckle down a bit. You may get lucky, but the work you put in between 30 and 40 will have a major impact on the next 20 years – work you put into your career, your health, your hobbies, and of course, your relationships.

40-49 Be A LITTLE RECKLESS – Not with your knees. Those things will kill you! Don’t get old too soon, there is plenty of time for that. Try a few new things. It’s never too old to start singing, painting, hiking… even sky diving! Enjoy the fruits of your labours and spend time with family and friends; that’s not reckless but it is important.

50-59 Be GRATEFUL – For me, the past ten years have not been without their struggles but they have been amazing! My connection with my daughter has been incredible. My friends, my relationships, my clients, my highs and even my lows have left me incredibly grateful for what I have. And more than anything else, that is my message to all of you. Be grateful!

And for sixty plus, I offer the wise words of Jack Nicholas in The Bucket List

“Three things to remember when you get older: never pass up a bathroom, never waste a hard-on, and never trust a fart.”

Some of you will like what I wrote, some of you won’t. Some may take offence, and others will take it in their stride. And one or two will be pissed off that I left the apostrophe out of won’t in the third paragraph!

I didn’t, but thank you for checking. It’s actually in the fifth paragraph and now you are so annoyed, but you want to go and check that too. Let me save you the trouble, I didnt (but I did here… at my age one of life’s little joys is fucking with people)

You know I couldn’t possibly leave you without at least a couple of lines from a song, so here goes…

Don’t let us get sick
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

Don’t Let Us Get Sick – Warren Zevon

It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy

All the times that I’ve cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
If they were right I’d agree
But it’s them they know, not me
Now there’s a way
And I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

Father And Son – Cat Stevens

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