By the end of today (January 4 2019) I will have spent an amazing 24,000 days on this planet. That’s getting on for 66 years, if you need a more easily digestible number. Apart from the first thousand days or so (which were a blur of nappies, boobs/bottles and mushy shit dressed up as some sort of introduction to “solid” food), I’ve looked forward to and embraced each day as it unfolded.
The next 5,000 days encompassed a childhood that saw me get a new Dad, briefly meet a sister who left far too soon, gain an education and completely misunderstand puberty. Whoever invented puberty obviously hates the human race.
Fortunately, I’m still in one piece. No major limbs or organs missing. No unwanted holes in my body. The cells that make up my human form have successfully regenerated millions of times and my blood flows through my heart at a resting rate around 50 thumps per minute. All in all, I’m in a great place. If you pushed me I would admit that I could be a bit better off financially, but then, even Bill Gates would probably like a bit more dosh to splash around.
My current estimate is that I’m almost two thirds of the way through my life – based upon how I’m feeling today. So, maybe it’s time to take stock and assess what the past has taught me and what the future holds (apart from the mushy food and nappies) as I launch myself towards Day 24,001 and beyond.
Lesson 1: I have learned the importance of being open, honest, constant and consistent. I appreciate these qualities in others and aspire every day to improve these qualities in myself.
Lesson 2: I eat lots of green leafy vegetables, red fruits, nuts and fibre. For the first 23,000 days of my life I neglected to focus sufficiently on the health of my gut and suffered the consequences. The last 1,000 days have been nothing short of transformative. No more hay fever means Spring is fun again! Better eyesight (one eye is now 20/20 again) means that I now save 50% on my annual contact lens bills! Remember, you’re not a kid any longer and your body is less forgiving as it gets older. Sugar is poison; diabetes kills.
Lesson 3: I emigrated to Australia in 1990 and left behind my parents, my brother and a whole host of beautiful extended family and friends. It taught me the true value of these people and how important it is to spend as much time as possible with the people I love. I visit the UK at least once a year to keep those relationships alive.
Lesson 4: My kids have, on more than one occasion, described me as a workaholic. My Dad taught me a strong work ethic while my kids taught me balance. Retiring at 59 was a small gesture, but consigning my day job to history improved my life immeasurably. Don’t ever be afraid of retirement, it will give you the best days of your life.
Lesson 5: I’m very lucky, I love all forms of exercise – always have. I wear a smart watch and exercise at least 5 days a week. Once you stop moving, you rust up and start dying. I was still playing competitive indoor soccer in my late 50’s (against men less than half my age) – and winning trophies!! Find a way to include regular exercise in your life. It’s never too late – I coach retirees in strength training and badminton through an amazing worldwide organisation called the University of the Third Age.
Lesson 6: I’ve probably had less than 100 really bad days in my life (and only one of those had anything to do with work). That means I’ve been happy for over 99% of my days. I don’t worry about what I can’t control and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t take myself too seriously. Some days I’m a mess, just like the rest of you. Don’t worry, be happy.
Lesson 7: I dumped my ego on my 40th birthday. It was totally empowering. I accept that someone out there is better than me. I accept that someone out there doesn’t like what I’m wearing or saying or doing. I am no better than the person standing next to me on the tram and they are no better than me. We are just different. Don’t judge others – you don’t know their story.
Lesson 8: I spend as much time as possible with babies and little people. Before I grew up and became aware, I too was a baby. I was pure. I was unknowing. I lived in the moment – ALL OF THE TIME. When I spend time with little people I forget the big bad bits of the world around me and embrace the simplicity and serenity of joy and wonder. If you have the wherewithal, I implore you to have children. If your children have the wherewithal, implore them to have children. Being a grandparent is the most rewarding role you will ever have.
Lesson 9: I wake up every day looking forward to the adventure we call life on earth. I have lived through some very dark times, don’t get me wrong, but dwelling on them has never helped me or my loved ones. My Mum’s lifelong battle with paranoid schizophrenia and depression made for some days very dark, but they were far worse for her than they were for us – her family.
Lesson 10: I am the best version of me that I can be. Don’t be who/what someone else wants you to be. Be authentic. If you can’t love yourself how do you expect others to love you?
Authors Note: This Blog Post is the first in a departure from my previous focus – software testing. I hope you find it interesting and maybe even useful. Please feel free to leave your comments and/or thoughts.
Dateline: Melbourne, Friday January 4 2019