Sunday, August 14, 2011

“Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?”

I had a birthday today. My 63rd. God has blessed me with the opportunity to try to get to 64. And this old disc jockey could not help but be reminded of the Beatles song. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four.”
Paul McCartney wrote this song when he was a 16 year old Liverpool lad. When I was 16 about all I could think about was getting to 21 and suddenly, I turn around and I have lived 21 years three times in a row. As Ben Franklin said, "The only things certain in life are death and taxes." It turns out a good lobbyist can save you from taxes but we all live with the certainty of dying. It’s rather intimidating to think that it could not only happen but that the odds of it happening increase with each birthday. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four.”
Turning 63 is not that big a deal. The Census Bureau estimates about 9,999 other Americans did it on the same day I did. Nationwide, more than 70 million will join me this year. “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now. Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings bottle of wine.”
Our lives have enjoyed certain symmetry. We came of age in the 60’s when the role of young people was honored. The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Young people demanded and got changes in civil rights, women’s rights and the environment. Today we’re a part of the fastest growing demographic in Wyoming and a general understanding that we 60-somethings have a genuine contribution to make to the future of the state.
We opened an interesting discussion this week at Bibles and Beer, a rather non-traditional happy hour Bible study each Monday at Uncle Charlie’s. Reading about how Lot was saved from the fire-bombing of Sodom and Gomorrah, we started to wonder what it means to live a righteous life.
“Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?”  The ancient Hebrews who wrote the story thought righteousness had something to do with engaging yourself in the life of the community. We shall scrimp and save. Grandchildren on your knee.”
Many of those of us who are turning 60 something every day have enjoyed a good life in this state and in this country. The fact that God has given us another day or another year or ten or more…means we still have a purpose. It is to be “righteous” in the way the ancients advocated, to engage ourselves in the community for the well-being of the future of those “grandchildren on your knee.”  We need to be the loudest Wyoming voices demanding higher quality child care, improvements in education, reforms in juvenile justice, better job and vocational opportunities, efforts to reduce the numbers of children growing up in poverty and opportunities for young parents to own their first home.
You and I have not been given simply an opportunity to breathe for 60 some years. We have been blessed with educations, experiences, knowledge and relationships that make us one of Wyoming’s most valuable resources. Curmudgeons United!
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

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