Thoughts on turning 60

I still have dreams and things I want to accomplish. There is not a bucket list on my wall because I believe that I should take the best opportunity that I see in front of me rather than being limited by something I previously thought was important. The newer ideas seem better. I enjoy my life, I am completely in love with Stelli, my wife, and I adore her. I am fascinated by people so my hope is to live past 90 just because I get so much joy from Stelli and my family.  I’d like to meet more interesting people and have even more friends. But 60 feels like an important milestone, much more so than thirty, forty, or fifty. Those birthdays went by without nearly the same amount of reflection on my part as sixty. Sixty marks the first time in my life where I look in the mirror and feel like I am starting to change in the most important ways—ways that are not what I expected, but they are ways that I feel are far better than I could have done if I chose those changes for myself when I was younger.

More thoughts for your consideration:

You cannot give the experiences to other people that they need nor can you explain to someone else what they should know. Only Life can do that. If you want to stop here I’m ok with that. That being said, if you are interested and understand that no matter what I say, you’ll still have to figure it out on your own, then read on.

Most of the things I did I should have done with more passion and without fear of failure; most of the things I stopped doing I should have stopped sooner. Most of the things I started late in life I should have started sooner. I don’t have regrets, but if I had done these things, it would have been like getting a little extra icing on the cake.

Seek to understand first, before seeking to be understood—thanks to Steven Covey for his explanation. When I read those words I started to get it. Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen without spending the time thinking about what you want to say. There is no greater gift than to give someone your willingness to listen. Listening confirms the other person’s humanity. Listening does not mean you agree, it simply means that you care.

To go fast go slow—especially in matters of learning, writing, speaking, and caring, especially in caring.

Earlier in my life I did not completely trust the truth. I learned that the longer this goes on, the harder it is to recognize and accept the truth, especially about oneself. Be passionate about the truth and be relentless in the pursuit of truth and trust that the truth will lead to the right outcome no matter how painful it might appear.

Look out to the margins for the truth. The center of the conversation, the center of groups, the “in-group” seldom is dealing with the truth and is generally more interested in remaining the center of attention than anything else.

We tell ourselves the stories that confirm what we already believe about ourselves or what we want to be true about ourselves. All the stories we tell contain the truth as well as lies, the important thing is being willing and able to discern which is which. Test this by reversing the emphasis on what is right or wrong in the stories you tell to yourself and to others. Be willing to change in response to the new story.

Never give up hope and never give up on people, but recognize that there are times when you must move on because of a bigger “YES” that is calling you forward in your life.

Recognize that you may not be the one to reconcile or resolve all the problems you encounter.

Be willing to confirm and accept the experiences of people not like you, it helps you get along, and it opens up new vistas of the truth.

You can’t talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into.

God does not need me to speak for God, only to speak according to my experience of God.

The world is perfect. I know this is very controversial, especially for people that want to save you, fix you, or fix the world, but I’ve considered this question for all of my adult life and I think this is an inescapable truth—hard to swallow, but true.

Good and evil as they are most frequently defined depend a great deal on context and the direction from which you are looking. Don’t be surprised if you sometimes find yourself on the other side of the definitions you prefer.

Do your best not to confuse love with lust, infatuation, obsession, and blind faith. Another way of saying this is that love and truth are intimately connected and cannot be separated. My experience of love is that it is clear and sees—it is not blind. Love contains within it an element of destructiveness—it must because it is so connected to the truth that all attachment and desire to control it, manipulate it or hold on to it must be broken and fail, because love is dynamic, transcendent and immanent. Love does not require anything in return and has no expectations. Love accepts and affirms others for who they are and how they express themselves as a human being. Love is unconditional. Remember that love is a verb and if you want to feel love then do loving things.

Going a little further if you think about philosophy and theology, which I do, I offer the following:

Morality is a consequence of respect for and valuing life and it is an expression of love. If you follow through on this—think it through—you will find that this leads to a host of other positive affirmations about human beings and our capacity for love. Morality does not come from following rules that we do not understand or that were formulated to manipulate and control people. Morality does not earn any rewards; it is sufficient to itself. To reward morality or to set up a system of rewards for being moral destroys freedom. Morality is its own reward.

Life, love and freedom come from the Grace of God. Without complete freedom we cannot love God. Love is unconditional. God does not require anything from us in order to experience or receive God’s love. To spell it out a little further: if God’s love requires obedience, then our obedience would compel God. God cannot be compelled or forced to act by human beings. Complete freedom is the only situation in which true love can be expressed.

The highest expression of justice is forgiveness. Another way of saying it: there is no justice without forgiveness. Forgiveness is a precursor to change. If there is no change, there has not been forgiveness and justice has not become manifest.

Finally, as Nat King Cole sang, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return.” Have compassion for others—do those loving things—and be loving to yourself.