Yesterday was my birthday! I am now 61 years old. Woo Hoo! Happy birthday to me! I’m at the point in my life where I’d rather not think about birthdays or the passage of yet another year. Someone told me last year that reaching my sixties was a milestone in my life. Yeah right, reaching my sixties is no damn milestone, all it does is gets me that much closer to a headstone! Now I don’t mean to be so morose, but it is true.
When I was young I never dreamed I’d ever live to be this old. For some reason unbeknownst to me, by the time I was nineteen I was pretty well convinced that I wouldn’t live to see 30. Can’t explain it exactly, it was just a feeling I had deep down inside. Even after I got married I used to tell my wife I’d never live to be 30. I suppose it may have come from that whole 1950’s rebellious youth thing, you know the “live fast, love hard, die young” mystique made famous by James Dean, Sal Mineo and Marlon Brando in movies like ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, ‘The Wild Ones’, and ‘Blackboard Jungle’. Add to that all those mindless, fun fun, fun, party hardy, Beach Party surfer films of the early 60’s which were actually pretty silly, nobody ever worked and were forever on the beach, their message came through loud and clear “to hell with values, morals and ethics, life’s a wave ride it hard and fast until you wipe out!”
Then there were the big, bad, biker movies of the 60’s, that introduced me to the counterculture in America, what some call the dark side, films like ‘Hell’s Angel’s on Wheels,’ ‘The Wild Angels’ and of course ‘Easy Rider’. These biker films and several others revealed a subculture whose values and norms were in direct opposition to the mainstream. And just what did these wild ones want? What change did they seek? I think that can best be said by the main character “Heavenly Blue” in ‘The Wild Angels’ when he spoke at a fellow bikers burial.
“We want to be free! We want to be free to do what we want to do! We want to be free to ride. And we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man And we want to get loaded. And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party!”
Could the biker “free to party, free to ride” philosophy have been influential on my “death premonition? definitely, just as the music of the period and films and news coverage about the hippie movement and lifestyle did as well. Hell I was young, angry and bored, not to mention easily influenced, fresh out of high school, trying to find myself. Now I’m not saying I did anything illegal or super dangerous, but I’m not going to say I didn’t. I plead the 5th. I do admit I pushed the limits and bent the lines at times, but I was just following the advice of Steppenwolf who sang ‘Born to be Wild’, when they sang,“Looking for adventure in whatever comes my way!”
Well God sure pulled a fast one on me! 30 came and went and here I am at 61. I never would of thunk it. 61 years of living, the majority of it pretty damn sweet! The good times more than make up for the bad times. My health is relatively good. Oh I’ve got a couple of ailments, but my doctor helps me keep them in check. I’ve got some aches and pains but who doesn’t? I hear my thirty something children making old people noises so I don’t feel so bad, I just make them more often.
Yeah, I’m sitting here this morning thinking about all the life God has allowed me to live, all the graces He’s bestowed upon me and the wonders He’s allowed me to experience. Those obstacles He’s occasionally placed in my path are just a way to test my resolve, just part of the trip. All in all, my 61 years have truly been blessed. I’ll have to wait and see what future plans He has for me. It’s really been a good life… Thank you Lord.
So put another candle in my birthday cake I’m another year old today…
Life is a precious gift from God, examine it carefully, shake it a little, unwrap it slowly, take it out of the box and enjoy it for as long as you can. Don’t ever take it for granted. In the wink of an eye, river of time flows by…. J S