In a little more than a month, I’ll have one of those “landmark” birthdays. Don’t misinterpret: I’m not full of anxiety or fear or regret. I’m just a bit more conscious of it than I would have been ten or even five years ago. And a bit more reflective about what these decades, piling up as they have, have taught me. This is what I came up with, in no particular order. No preachiness or arrogance intended, of course.
Have faith. Even a little bit helps.
Love and treasure your family and friends.
Pay attention to the sunrise. Other than the birth of a healthy baby, it’s the best visual representation of hope that I know.
Be honest, first to yourself, then to everybody else.
Don’t believe everything you hear, read, or (the worst) see on a screen. There are always two sides, and sometimes there are ten.
Do nice things for other people. Graciously allow them to do nice things for you.
Look for the laugh, even when you hit nasty wall . If there’s a chance in hell that you can find something to laugh about, go for it.
Don’t be afraid to be that one deep fuchsia rose in a sea of pale pink.
“Always look for the helpers.” This isn’t mine, of course. It’s Fred Rogers’ advice on dealing with the biggest, saddest tragedies. It’s brilliant. (And he should be a saint.)
Listen more than you talk.
Read, travel, dance, and sing. Especially sing. Take a cue from Grandma Gina, who sings when she cooks. Americans don’t sing enough.
Remember that it really isn’t always about you. You’ll get your turn when you need it.
Recognize that you have made, and will continue to make, many mistakes. Learn from them and forgive yourself accordingly.
Finally, “Don’t get above your raisin’,” a caution from the US South that Earl Scruggs wrote a song about and Ken Burns immortalized in his brilliant Country Music series. Humility, like Paris, is always a good thing.