Woody Allen said that 80% of success is just showing up. Darned if old Woody wasn’t right. I know it to be true because when I was working in the real world as a salesman I often got the order because I was the only one who showed up. That certainly was the secret of my success and got me started down the road to becoming a multi-hundred-aire.
There is no denying clock or calendar. A few weeks ago when I flipped the calendar page from June to July it shouted at me that I had been showing up for 75 years. That’s a lot of showing up. It means that my birth certificate (with a raised seal) is a matter of public record. It means that I’ve survived 7 Popes, 13 Presidents, 6 horrible bosses, 150 Best Actors and Actresses, 22 address changes, and 2 older brothers. I survived Eastern Snow storms, Midwestern humidity, Las Vegas roulette wheels, and commuting in Los Angeles. I stared down one tornado, and shook, rattled, and rolled with a half dozen earth quakes. I’ve even survived the parking lot at Trader Joes’s. Thanks to PG&E I have a smart meter to offset my dumb phone. I have shelves of books worth reading and more than 200 television channels that aren’t worth watching. I’ve managed to survive my own curiosity, for as Yogi Berra said, when I came to a fork in the road, I took it.
A friend suggested I should think of turning seventy-five as if life is a football game and I’m entering the fourth quarter. If that’s so, I go into the fourth quarter hardly able to hear the QB’s signals, barely able to see a linebacker intent on knocking my bad knees out from under me, and definitely without a no-cut contract.
So, if I am entering the 4th quarter of the game I should have a game plan. Here it is. I’ll deal with the disquieting facts that come at me such as the sudden illness and death of an old friend. Then I’ll celebrate his life and cherish his memory. The gnawing feeling that all the breaks went against me is just that – a gnawing feeling. It really isn’t true. The steady awareness of a diminishing shelf life and the slow, inevitable slide down the pecking order are offset by the coziness of retirement. I’ll sit with my contemporaries and talk about RV Parks, about the wattles on Andy Rooney’s neck; rashes and rectal exams, pensions and prostates, hoping to plea bargain the felonies of our infirmities down to misdemeanors.
Sure there are negatives to ageing but I’ll embrace the positives. I know my race is more than half over. I used to worry that the course I’ve completed was better than the part that lies ahead. I no longer feel that way. There is love in my life, hope in my spirit — and no matter how off tune – there is a song in my heart.
Nonetheless, creased and stained by honorable and mendacious scars here is the crux of my plan: to mosey along the shorter half of the course, looking straight (and not so very far ahead); to never let my brooding mind rest upon itself; and to set my eyes upon the faces I love to see.
And I think to myself – what a wonderful world.