28 February 2014

"We Have Lift Off I Am Officially 60" The Conclusion of My Month Long Autobiographical Series - Countdown to 60

My big bro and I some years ago.

"I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition." - John Lennon after The Beatles rooftop concert their last live performance.

The best time to be happy is right now. And I am.

If I had to do it all over again...well I don’t and neither does anyone else. It’s rather the point of this whole exercise. We get second chances at certain things but not the whole thing itself. This life business. We have to make do with what we did do.

Someone recently asked me if it was difficult to write some of what I’ve described here. The answer is no. Some of it was difficult to live through but writing about it after the fact is a stroll around the block.

I was a shortstop in Little League.
Some people I know claim that their lives have been wonderfully free of any serious problems or turmoil. How dreadfully dull. Of course one shouldn't look for heartache and strife and I hope that my children avoid it but it is through the hard times the misfortunes and the upsets that we learn and grow and become. We can't always control what happens to us but we do control how we respond. In given situations sometimes we crumble or tumble and other times respond and grow and grain strength.

I’m not entirely certain what this exercise of living on planet Earth for however long we get is all about. Many pretend to know and to that end they create entire religious beliefs that in turn sometimes get into conflict with people who have different belief systems. These conflicts have resulted in the premature deaths of tens of millions of people over the millennia. Rigid belief systems have caused irreparable damage in other ways too. Limiting self expression oppressing groups of people and stifling creativity are just a few examples. I find myself much happier acknowledging that I don’t know what its all about but continually trying to understand what I can and never stopping in my pursuit of enlightenment.

My approach to life has been to lower my shoulder and forge ahead. It has served me well as an employee. I show up and put in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Meanwhile I find pleasure in the arts principally films literature and music and by getting as many yuks in the course of a day as is possible. I also keep fit which is and end in itself. Long hard runs feel really good at the time and create euphoria in their immediate aftermath. I subsequently enjoy not having a protruding belly. Of course the primary ingredient to a happy life is love. To love and be loved are the greatest experiences one can hope for in life.

It seems I’m heading in the direction of giving advice so I’ll go ahead and get on with it.

Richard’s Tips For A Happy Healthy Life

Have a high fiber diet. No details just trust me on this one.
Plenty of sex. I assume there are no questions here.
Develop an appreciation for the arts. This can include sports as well but principally I refer to arts in the traditional sense.
Stay fit. It’s not so much a matter of living longer but so that you can be healthy and thus enjoy the time you have. Exercise helps you emotionally as much if not more than physically.
Never stop learning. If you do your intellect atrophies. Warning the more you learn the more you'll want to learn.
Accentuate the positive. There is more than enough to be negative about and it is important to shine a light on all the horrors and annoyances of the world but for goodness sake live in what is positive.
Have positive obsessions. Obsess about things that make you happy or at least leave you feeling fulfilled. To act contrarily is to get eaten alive by resentments.

Chico News & Review staff 1978. As usual I manage to be the
center of attention.
Vote for and support the champions of the oppressed and unfortunate. If you’re looking for a political figure or party to back why not settle on those who fight for the poor the voiceless the forgotten and the needy. Any party or person who exists to keep the rich and powerful entrenched needs strong opposition.
Don’t brood over your mistakes. Learn from them and move.
Find work that you love so that it doesn’t feel like work. I was asked not long ago when I planned on retiring. Why would I retire from a job I love so much? It’s like asking someone when they’re going to stop eating pizza. Only when I have to.
Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change and the courage to change the things you. Having the wisdom to know the difference is good too.
Laugh. Whenever possible. It’s really good for you.

So here I am at six zero (I refuse to preface with “the big”). I still feel like a kid and unless I’m around small children I always feel like one of the younger ones in a room full of people. When I was a kid older people were grown ups or adults. They were people of an unimaginable age who knew better and did things like pay bills and work at jobs and they could be mean and were hopelessly square. Supposedly I became a grown up at some point as I worked and paid bills and knew better and could be mean too but I don’t think I was ever hopelessly square and never felt fully mature or old. Maybe I’m all screwed up in this respect or maybe I’ve got it together. In either case life’s worked out pretty well. I keep expecting to some day feel like a grown up but I’m not losing sleep over it.

I’ve had some bad breaks and made colossal mistakes and made bewildering decisions along with outright stupid ones but I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else. I’ve learned the importance of humility. Suffice to say that I’ve figured out that to find my own worst enemy all I need is a mirror. I can also find in that mirror a pretty decent guy who never meant any harm and may have made a small contribution to the world. Oh and if I’m looking in that mirror today I hope I’m seeing someone who is going to be around a lot longer. Life is just getting to be really fun.

(This series is dedicated to my mother Gertrude Marie Hourula (nee Kurki). Mom, I’m sorry we never really got a chance to talk.)

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