I appreciate all the birthday wishes and the many donations to Mubaku Educational Foundation (The school in Uganda I support, see Mubakuschool.org for more information.)
While I enjoy the happy birthday wishes, I need to make one thing perfectly clear, I am no longer counting my years. Instead, I am now counting levels. So I am proud to announce that I have reach level 65 in the game of life.
Counting the levels I have achieved is my way of denying that I have an aging body plus many people will think I carry a sword because obviously, anyone who has reached level 65 is a badass, sword-carrying, powerful dude (who is also occasionally delusional).
In my threescore and five years, much has happened. In elementary school, we did nuclear bomb duck and cover drills because we feared the Russians. These days I am more afraid of the domestic terrorist threat and mass shootings.
I expected that by the time I reached level 65 that my parent’s generation, the WWII greatest generation, would be mostly gone. I treasure the few who are still here, enjoying life in their 90s. I have grieved each of their deaths and now cherish their memories.
What I did not expect were those friends I grew up with that are now gone. I double-dated to my senior prom with one of my good friends. He died of brain cancer five years ago. My date died of breast cancer 20 years ago. My classmate neighbor, who lived across the street, who married another of my friends, is also gone. There are many more from my days growing up in Malibu who now no longer walk the earth.
This is the hard part of getting older. We lose loved ones. Ogden Nash summed it up best in his poem “The Middle”
When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born
So even though I have lost loved ones, I now have many friends who were born long after I graduated from college.
All this has taught me that every day is a precious gift from God. It is not to be wasted. We need to strive to make the world a better place for all.
I think the line spoked by Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol when he replies to Scrooges’s statement that Marley was a good businessman, has been a guide to me.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
The best thing about reaching level 65, I am still not too old to dance to classic rock.