60 next week. Ak. Actually, my knees are 60, the rest of me is still 45. (Thank you Edgar of BoRics on Ashland near Diversey.)
Charley's cancer really solidified our resolve to figure out what we REALLY want to do in this life. The goal is for him to retire next summer and for us both to begin doing something that brings us satisfaction and a moderate income. It's a lot riskier doing something like this at our age with The Sam Factor than it was when we were young and unencumbered. On the other hand, it may be our last chance to risk everything for a dream. I remember sociologist Tony Campolo once cited a survey of 80 year olds who said their greatest regret was about some opportunity or risk not taken. So we are getting serious about this. We're probably going to be 80 in 20 years. Or 35 years.
The thought that has been repeatedly coming to me is that I am not a beginner. I have done and learned a lot of things over the decades. No really. A LOT. I'm not starting from scratch. So all my experience must add up to something, I just have to do the math.
Sadly, math is not my strongest subject!
To get a handle on what/who I am, I've been going over my journals. This in itself is weird. I write journals feverishly at times and then not at all for years. I keep them mostly because we have a house and there's room. I never actually planned to look at them again. All I really planned to do with them was destroy them before I die. But turns out they are very interesting. (What a narcissist!) There are several themes that run as far back as the journals.
Creativity - making lace, jewelry, knitting, general craft stuff. Music - singing, string instruments, penny whistle, odd percussion instruments from all over the world (http://www.propane.pro/tanks/the-propane-tank-recycled-for-the-drum-circle-0211/). The wisdom of people with cognitive disabilities. Children. Learning something (anything) new.
I have a very love/hate relationship with my interpersonal skills; but I am a good leader and a good listener and perhaps a good teacher. Listening makes me insightful because I can synthesize what I hear from different people, or the same person at different times, into a single thought. I'd probably be good at negotiation, except I wouldn't like to spend a lot of time in the same room with angry people.
Listening also helps me notice when two people are arguing about two totally different subjects. Sometimes I can notice this even when one of the people arguing is me! It's a very odd experience and one I really don't know what to do about in the moment it occurs. It is usually best to first agree with the other person - since their point really has nothing to do with mine - and then cautiously restate my point. It's funny how often arguments are not about what the participants think they are about.
My journals also point out that I have a lot of fear which is mostly nutty and keeps me from making my dream into a goal.
And I like to write about the philosophy of me.
I don't know what this adds up to, but at least I've defined the value of X.
Experiments For Further Reflection on the eve of my 60th birthday:
1: Charley is going to buy me a ukelele (I think I'll get a tenor, it has more tuning options)
2: I'm going to go to the beach with my grandchildren and try to blow giant bubbles like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i-zYdOPG2k
3: With my friend Lawrence from Esperanza (http://www.esperanzacommunity.org) I'm going to paint a picture of "Helen's Bird" as part of the project "Dynamic Duos: Works in Collaboration" which will be displayed in October as part of Chicago Artists Month.