I wrote this a few years ago.
In many respects living life is like taking a ride in a cab. When you get in the cab the flag is dropped and the meter starts running. In a similar fashion the day we are born the meter in the cab that is going to take us through life starts ticking. If the cab ride is interesting and exciting, as life often is, we tend to ignore that meter. It just keeps racking up the miles and cost – the days, months and years of our lives.
Usually it takes something unusual to remind us to take a look at what the meter reads. Birthdays will do that, especially what I call milestone birthdays. They typically end in a zero and the bigger the number, the more years we have lived, the more startling it is. There is however, as I have found, one milestone birthday that doesn’t end in a zero that really makes you take notice.
In my case and in the case of my high school classmates and many other friends it is our 75th birthday (mine is less than a year away). Yes, 75 as in three fourths of a century. Now that’s a number that makes you stand up and really focus on it. You see, those in my era were born just prior to the 1940 – from 1935 to 1939. That means we have just passed our 75th birthday, are just about on it or see it looming in the immediate future. It’s a birthday that is hard to comprehend, hard to wrap your mind around.
We have lost a few along the way; they are no longer with us and their meter no longer is running. That is one of the cold realities of life. For the rest of us we are alive and kicking as they say – we are still riding in that cab. We know what the calendar says, but it isn’t what our minds are telling us. How can we have been around so long when our high school days and the years that followed seem like only yesterday? Sure there are a few physical things we can’t do and, yes, we don’t quite look like we use to. But if you could see inside us, you would see we are the same people we were those many years ago.
The cab doesn’t have that new car smell, and it probably needs more maintenance, but it is still running, albeit a bit slower. We still are who we use to be. You may not think so, but when we are around our classmates and friends from years ago, dare I say decades ago, they still recognize us for who we were and still are. There is something comforting in that. To those who are younger we are the old folks, Gramps or Grams. We are the ones for whom they are making plans to find a suitable ALF or nursing home. To that we say – hold on just a minute junior.
What they take as over the hill is, in truth, someone on top of the hill, looking out and over our lives, the lives of our families and friends, and the world around us. What they may perceive in many of us as just meaningless talk is experience talking. It is advice being given although too often it is foolishly ignored
The meter in our cab may read 75, but it is a 75 years that was well worth the trip. It is the cost we paid to experience the joys and sorrows, the pleasures and pain, the good times and bad times in our lives. It is a measure of how far we have come – the life we have lived. We are thankful for having gotten this far and have every intention continue the ride and watch that meter go even higher. For as Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.