Last month, on November 16, to be exact, I reached what many people consider one of the notable mileposts on the journey through life: I turned sixty.
What do I know at sixty?
My life is very different from what I’d imagined a man’s life to be at this age. When I was much younger, I figured sixty was pretty much the beginning of the rocking chair years, marking time until the grave. Instead of the end, however, what I see before me is a door opening onto a whole world of new possibility. In the last year, I’ve hit the NYT bestseller list (a first for me), finished writing two novels, and signed a contract for more. The last thing I want to do is sit in a rocker and stare into space.
But the question remains: What do I know at sixty?
Not as much as I’d hoped I might. I don’t feel wise at all. Life is still a knot I struggle every day to untangle. I’ve always been a worrier, and I still am. I worry about everything. I have more money now than I ever did, but I worry that it isn’t enough. My children are grown and out on their own, but I continue to worry about their well being; and I have grandchildren now to add to my worries. I work out regularly, but worry that I’ll never be able to get rid of that extra ten pounds that’s settled around my middle in the last couple of years. I worry that no matter what I write, it’s not good enough. I worry that I don’t do everything that I should to make life better for all of those in desperate need. I worry that whatever it is I’m supposed to have learned at sixty I’ve somehow missed.
What I don’t worry about is happiness. At sixty, I’m a pretty happy man—despite all my worries. And a lucky man. I’ve realized a life-long dream, which was to make my living doing what I love most: writing stories. And I know that although the Grim Reaper and I are speeding toward each other on the same set of tracks, before we collide, I believe, quite happily, that I have a great many more stories to write, love to give, and lessons to learn.
So, what do I know at sixty? Simply this: Life is a journey and there is no destination. No matter how fast I run, I will never arrive.