Well I have just turned 50, think of that! When I was just a sprout I couldn’t believe I would ever be an adult and do adult things, life was all summers and rules dictated by my parents. Each spring just like Douglas Spaulding (Dandelion wine – Ray Bradbury for those who haven’t read this fabulous story) I would nag my mother for that new pair of sneakers full of running and fresh cut grass, daisies, tree climbing and skinned knees.
Half a century later more or less I am now the parent, my children and grand children hitting me up for sneakers, summer togs and concert tickets. They say I am getting older, though most days I don’t feel it. Like my children, like I have all of those past years, I still go out in spring and get my new sneakers, reverently retiring the old. I have more creaks, and cracks, certainly I am aging but growing old? Never. Life, living and summer still flows in these old veins. I am just as active now as I was when so long ago I was 11 standing on the edge of summer, if a little less frantic. Summer doesn’t rush by (though it always ends too soon!) so much as saunter by full of freshness and life, each summer full of new experiences, new adventures even now after having seen 50 of them.
On this birthday, the day that always marked the beginning of summer adventures for me, I did something that mostly was for me, an affirmation of spirit that has guided me, formed me and been a part of me for many many years. I got a tattoo, on my arm, not the usual skull and cross bones or “I love Molly” or flames but something much closer to my heart, simpler yet full of the meaning of life, my life. It is a string of characters, kanji characters, each one a word, each one a virtue I have always lived by. They are in fact the Kanjii that states the Bushido code, the warriors’ code. Honor, Honesty, Sincerity, Courage, Compassion, Loyalty, Courtesy. Who could disagree with such virtues? I literally do wear my heart on my sleeve, or in this case my arm.
Is this the start of a mid life crisis? Is the next step a shopping trip for chains and a corvette? No chance! More like a simple statement of what really matters. Life is for living, aging doesn’t mean getting old, slowing down or abandoning vim and vigor. Aging is the gathering of experience, the adventure of living, the treasure of sharing all of life with the ones you love most of all, your wife, your children, your grand children. In 50 summers I have gathered many adventures, many experiences, all of them treasured, stored away in my mind, just as Douglas once did, to be brought out in the dead of winter to warm the heart and your feet wrapped in those heavy oxfords. I am 50 going on … well some younger age perhaps, many more summers to come, many more adventures to come. Now where have my sneaks go to …