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Inspiration for this post found me when I was looking at the WordPress homepage about a month ago and noticed a blogpost by a woman called Celine.  She called it the “30 before 30 project.”  At some point before she made a list of 30 things she wished to have done before she turned 30.

Tomorrow is my 21,900th morning on this earth, i.e., I turn 60!  It’s stunning, traumatizing, but I have to get over it.  When I was under 30, the way I imagined 60 is quite different from how it feels to me, but that’s another story.

I decided that what distinguishes the 60 mark from the 30 is that rather than looking forward to things yet to do, I feel drawn to reflect on what I’ve gotten from the 21,900 days behind me.  So here’s my list of six lessons:

1. Ask.  Cultivate curiosity.  How could anyone look at this scene and not wonder what it is?  Curiosity supports youthfulness, no matter your mileage or years.

2.  Accept.  Anomalies brush past everywhere.  I’ve asked, but even if I don’t understand the whys and whos . . .  of horned creatures munching atop walls under the VZ Bridge or . . .

full-rigged ships suddenly blooming, heeled over and zooming past vessels called Chance, or

vessels named Ever Diadem passing scows named Mighty Quinn, so be it.   I know I’ve NOT done anything to hallucinate, so maybe in time I will understand.   In fact, as I took fotos of Ever Diadem, clear as could be I heard the bow watch crewman shout out “Foto!” so I took one, will put it on the web, and whoever he is, he may or may not some day stumble upon it.

3.  Act.  Pulverize procrastination.  But realize that running in competition with procrastination is triage.  Some things will not get done first . . . might never get done at all, and those priorities could be fine.  But act on what you want and need.   Fred Trooster took this foto in Hellevoetsluis, downstream from the port of Rotterdam,  last spring. Bedankt, Fred.

4. Smile.  Whoop and overwhelm weltschmerz.  I have my sources for smiles, and I go there when I need them to survive.  It sounds silly maybe, but I’m as committed to balance in humor as in diet, work . . . .

5. Give.  Give yourself, your humor, your urgency.  Overwhelm some random person with your cheer.  And although it’s not the motivation, whatever you give comes back many fold and in unexpected ways.  Account ledgers, though important, tell only half-truths.

6. Relax.  When I was under 30, I confused sleep with wasted moments.  Relaxation allows wisdom to seep in.  Here near the headwaters of the Hudson aka  Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, a few minutes of nestled into the sandy bank rearrange priorities and expel dark humors.

The feline below left, less than six months old, gallops around the house more pony than cat.    But it sleeps up to 18 hours a day.  So does the 30-year-old parrot.  Relaxation, re-energizing, a rovering spirit remain as much the prerogative of the over-60 as the under-30.  Gallivanting becomes the parrot as well as the cat, although each does it differently.

So, where do I go from here?  Tomorrow, my actual 21,900th day I don’t post.  I work a 12-hour day at the bread/butter job. But in the breaks, I think of post-60 gallivants.  Here are six that occur to me immediately.

1.  the Panama Canal.  It’d be just like sitting along the KVK, and I’d even see some of the sixth boro regulars, I’d bet.

2.  the Erie Canal.  I’ve motored it, but I have a 10-foot Hunter Liberty that I’d love to sail from Lyons to the sixth boro.

3.  a freighter cruise.  I’ve never been interested in big cruise ships.  In my early 30s,I took a thrilling 60-hour ferry from Jedda to Port Suez.

4.  the Amazon, and while in Brasil, I might stop in at Bebedouro.  Maybe the freighter cruise could be up to Port Newark with holds full of orange juice.

5.  the Mississippi, at least from St. Louis to the Gulf.

6. the Rhine/Rhone Canals from the North Sea to the Med.

So much for a list.  Tomorrow some of these might differ.  So what . . .

Here are some more lists . .  mostly young people.

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February 2012