What is the one thing you did not plan for when you got older?
My endless list of blessings past, present, and future.
We, all of us, are born with an infinite number of ways to live our lives. Fortunately, for many of us, we choose ways — or ways are chosen for us — that enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. Others are less fortunate.
I often describe my life as a writer as 80% luck, 15% pluck, and 5% talent. I believe that luck, which I think of as serendipity, plays a larger role in shaping our lives than most of us are willing to admit.
Perhaps my overall life could be described in the same way.
When I count my blessings, almost all the results of luck, I soon run out of fingers and toes. I soon run out of numbers and my abacus doesn’t help. I resort to that handy catch-all, infinite.
#1 on my list started in my past and spans into my present and future: my four kids and 6 grandkids, all healthy, happy and productive, now age 11 through 64. Sixty-four years of overlapping, continuous joy, mostly. You who have kids and grandkids know that they are a mixed blessing that you wouldn’t trade for (insert your wildest, most extravagant dream here; I’m still working on mine).
Others of note that started in my past and continue today and will continue as long as I can draw a breath include a beloved high school English teacher who initiated my career as a writer and teacher/coach, from which I wrote The Power of Being Articulate and The Power of Writing Well; and a high school music teacher (along with a talented bass player and crooner) who gave me the gift of music appreciation.
I was blessed by a college professor who taught me the joys of intellect; several bosses who taught me the value of dignity, from which I wrote The Power of Dignity; one president of major manufacturer who taught me the value of ethics, from which we wrote The Power of Ethics; and a distinguished physician and officer of a large consulting firm who taught me the value of service to others, from which I have been a director of several non-profits.
I could go on, but you get the point and I’d wager can compile a similar list. I’d also wager that I surprised many of you with my rant.
I count my blessings for the robust health, both mental and physical, that enables me to realistically visualize a future filled with friends, music, teaching, and writing. Yes, at 88, I have outlived many of the friends I collected earlier, but I cherish more deeply my relationships with those who remain. I still serve on the marketing committee of a small opera company, and teach writing to a group of architects, lawyers, and management consultants. And I am still writing blogs, and two books, and helping two aspiring authors to finish their books and publish them on my publishing company, The Expressive Press.
Long ago I decided that I — and all of us — would reach old age when our regrets exceeded our hopes in both number and intensity. Now I am convinced that the only way to thwart old age is to collect so many blessings that they overwhelm regrets. Do you agree?