Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 16, 2010

Part 1 of 3: On Turning 60

What it means to me to be 60 years old.

Part 1 of 3.

It means my best years are ahead.   Even if there were only one golden year ahead.  The time alive in this body ahead can be far better than what has passed.  The time alive in a different body in a different place will be infinitely better – for an infinite time ahead.  Being 60 years old means looking ahead, not back – to me.

I understand what Solomon wrote at the end of his life about all being folly.  I came to a similar conclusion that goals – like fame, rank, money, medals, and all explicit achievements – were folly when I was 16.   Yes, sixteen.   My father’s heart attack lead me to sort out what I thought was important in life.  I established for myself a vertical hierarchy of duties.  Living up to those duties with all the passion a man can muster didn’t seem to be folly to me.  Still doesn’t at age 60.

The Biblical poetry in Psalms about man’s life passing like the grass of a season sings to me.  It used to seem sinister, threatening and overwrought with anxiety.  Now, I know it as simply the truth.  I repeat the phrase my Daddy said, “Life is short”, as an encouragement to live well, better, more fully.  The fast fleeting of this life has lost most of its emotion for me.  Except, perhaps, for a bit of whimsy for what I know.  And irritation about what I won’t be able to do again.  The passing seasons don’t carry feelings as they come and go.  They simply are.  Life is life.

I learned the Greek word for ‘everlasting life’ has a richer meaning than in English.  It’s a life started in the past that gets richer and better and better to continue without end.  It’s quite different than life #1 in the body on earth and life #2 in Heaven or Hell.  I can sense the difference at age 60 as I know more people who died.  It tells me the Apostle Paul’s teaching “absent the body, present in the Lord” is true.  Death is like walking through a door.  That fast.  That certain.

I’m aware the sooner or later the moment is coming for me is getting closer to sooner.  Later is a diminishing number of years.  I recall being put asleep with anesthetics and blacking out after injury.  This will be a true fade to black.  Seconds of being out of breath.  Then, there will be a light and warmth on the other side of the door.   I experienced this on March 15th, 1987.   I know we can go to a place where you are still alive – and it is warm and bright.   And, the feelings of joy and peace are incredible.  My tiny taste of it was wonderful.  Beyond anything else I’ve ever felt.

Until my time ends here, there is a lot of living still to do.  I’m only months from the age when my Daddy died.  I know how much he missed not living to an old age.  I look forward to how much I can gain by giving – to as healthy an old age as the Lord Wills.

The night I turned 40 I thought how fast it went from 20 to 40 and how my Dad died at 60.  So how fast would the next twenty go?  And what would I do, I wondered.  Suddenly, this thought clapped in my mind like thunder, “What will you have done for Me?”  I sat straight up, fast, with heart a flutter.

Let others measure me by my relationships with them.  By whatever they count as accomplishments.  By the failures they choose to rank me.  At 60, I feel more and more urgency to do as much as I can.   Not to check off a bucket list.  But, to fulfill my duties – by living my relationships.  Do what I must do as duties – like a dayjob to provide income for family.  Do what I am passionate about doing as duties – fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Experiment.  Read and write.

My life isn’t about me.  Took me years to really understand the depths of this.  I’ve always struggled with the sin of inner pride and desires for self – confidence, competitiveness, independence, stubbornness.

Had to go through my dark night of the soul in September 1993.  Before and after had to have many, other humbling times to really be broken.  To get to a Yom Kippur retreat and fast in 2009 – to where I could give up every hope I held in my heart – even those desires for my loved ones – and not be lying to the Lord.  Of course, I still have hopes and desires.  I just don’t hold on them like I really own them – or can make them happen.

I do what I was told to do on March 15th, 1987,“You will read and write.”  Trying to do more and better.

Let those who know me correct my words here.  Or, wait for two more parts to get the full sense of sixty that I’m trying to share.  Then, call them as you see them.

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Responses

  1. great post

  2. I loved reading this and your attitude. I turned 70 this yr. Unreal to me LOL. An Irish mother-in-law once told me, “Barbara, no matter who old you are, you will never feel that old in your mind.” How true that is. Have a wonderful next decade. Mine has been great. Blessings. Barbara

  3. It’s a great story just like your father, father left a couple of years younger than your dad.bro. He passed-away when he was 58 and my mom 62. I’m looking forward to write a story about myself, or about my life as well when I get to such age. Belated Happy Birthday again.Thanks for sharing your story @60.God Bless.


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