The Big Six-Five

A few days ago–April 12th–marked the conclusion of my 65th year on this planet. When you get to this age birthdays (for many people) become melancholy milestones–occasions to take stock and reflect on all that’s happened–to oneself, the nation, the species–and consider (if not decide) what it’s all been about.

All that stuff–the (apparently) good and the (apparently) bad–that you remember and that has shaped you–what does it mean?

Human beings are not video recorders. They don’t remember things accurately–ask 4 different people who witnessed an accident what happened you’ll get 4 different versions. And if you add sixty-five years of life to the equation it becomes pretty subjective

It’s because we interpret events–not simply record them. It is entirely within the context of our personalities and our previous experiences–the sum of things we understand and don’t understand–we decide what has happened and of course—what it means.

Look back over your life–there are defining or decisive moments where you changed direction. Or maybe there was an event where your sense of direction was lost or became confused. If that happened in your life maybe since then life has been about that uncertainty or lack. In any event–our lives are not about what has happened but what we think happened and what we think it means.

Look back at the moments that stand out–is there a pattern or theme?

I know a family member who can only see the negative, the unfair and the threatening. For this person life is about survival and just making it from one problem to the next. That’s this person’s “reality.” When I asked this person how that reality was serving them they laughed—because part of that person’s reality is we are helpless to alter our lives.

For me life has been a journey in search of love, enhanced understanding and appreciation for all of this creation–and the firm conviction there is much more going on than what we discern. Life’s “meaning” for me is constantly evolving. Life isn’t about answers–it’s about better questions and (you knew this was coming)–it’s about the journey–not the destination because the destination is the same for everybody-we’ll all be getting off at the same stop.

But there’s a lot we can do about the journey between here and there.

The picture with these comments was taken on a stroll through the Charlottesville Downtown Mall (a restored historic district and pedestrian mall in Charlottessville, VA) with my beautiful wife and best friend, the afternoon of my birthday.

For us my birthday was about a good meal at a nice restaurant and a pleasant stroll on a pleasant afternoon in a pleasant setting. And for me as an individual–it was about ferreting out a few more images with all their implications and archetypal resonance.

This is the facade of a restaurant on the mall called “The Nook.” If the sign in the window is accurate, it opened when I was 6 years old—not long after the age when most people begin accumulating all those memories that we pick and choose from as the decades and the shaping experiences roll by. It took me 59 years to arrive at the moment I snapped that image.

Sure–there were obstacles and problems along the way but overall, it was a very pleasant stroll.

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