“Accept modestly; surrender gracefully”—Marcus Aurelius
I celebrated my 60th birthday the other day, and find this fact amazing, appalling, and strangely life affirming. Cheerfulness is the first sign of wisdom, and to quote Hubert Humphrey: “I’m as pleased as punch” to still be here.
This last is no idle notion. Thanks to social media and googling the obituary pages of the local newspapers back east where I grew up, I’m discovering that I’m outliving increasing numbers of familiar contemporaries. I’ve counted a half dozen in just the last year. Sic transit gloria mundi. This is sad and weirdly refreshing at the same time.
Sixty is the borderland of old, but it’s strange that as one ages the general feeling of the same old self is always present. Despite the aches and pains, we are still the people that we were fifty years ago. As we approach the gate of the grave, we are likely to still possess the same cognitive awe of life (though seared by experience, skepticism, and cynicism) that we felt in childhood.