If you're reading this before April 9, I'm almost 60. If you're reading it after April 9, I'm already 60. I'll probably feel more or less the same, no matter when you read this. But there's something about going over that hump that makes one pause and reflect.
Last week I interviewed three people whose parents I interviewed 20 or more years ago. That starts to put things in perspective. People I'm talking to now were teenagers or young kids when I started this job 31 years ago!
But my mind doesn't feel like it's 60. I'll look at someone or talk to someone and think, gee, you're getting up there, only to find out they're 57 or 58! Now I know what my late mom meant when she referred to people 60 and younger as 'kids.'
I still get excited by things that excited me years ago – the prospect of planting a new crop, newborn animals, new technology that I get to explain to others – whether I know how to use it or not. (Which I usually don't.) But while retirement is hopefully still a long ways off, the word 'retire' and the words 'social security' and 'estate planning' have a different ring now.
My brain sometimes reminds me I'm not as young as I once was. I've got the kind of computer in my brain that filled the math building at Purdue in the basement in the 1970s and used keypunch cards, instead of a super-sleek model today. I can usually come up with a name, but it takes me at least 10 minutes, sometimes days for the 'computer' on my shoulders to find the right memory slot. It used to happen almost instantaneously.
I also know what my late father meant when he said he could remember stuff that happened 50 years ago better than what happened last week. I can recall certain events from my childhood in vivid detail. Ask me about what I did a couple months ago, and it's a coin toss as to whether I will remember enough to answer your question. If it's something my wife claims she told me, forget it – I won't remember it!
I also know I'm older when I look in the mirror and see gray hair and a bulging waistline. Believe it or not, when I graduated high school, I was as skinny as a rail. As Hank Williams Jr. said, it's a family tradition. My dad, my uncle and most of their cousins all sported the same look by age 60.
April 9 will come and go. Hopefully I feel as good on April 10 as I did on April 8. But I'll never be under 60 again. It does make me want to make the most of each moment, and to appreciate each season I get to follow farmers around the field all that more. No one gets to do it forever.
If you're 20 or younger, you probably think this is sappy nonsense. If you're 20 to 40, you might have smiled about the bulging belly. If you're 40 through 59, you may have chuckled a bit, but you tempered it with a few thoughts of what it's like to get older yourself. And if you're already 60 or older, you probably are thinking, "Oh, get over it. There's still plenty of life left for those who choose to live it. You're not over the hill – you're on top of the hill!"
That's my goal. Stay on top of the hill, and above ground level, for as long as the good Lord allows me too. And if you're turning another year older on April 9th too, happy birthday!