In 1972, our country’s most popular song was “American Pie,” the Living Bible became the most popular nonfiction book, the Waltons premiered on CBS, NASA introduced the Space Shuttle Program, and one Monday evening in September, I took my first breath. This fall I hit the half-century mark, and I’m proudly wearing the “Vintage 1972” accompanying t-shirt and cap.
Turning a milestone age brings reflection. The world has changed tremendously in half a century. In some ways for good and in many ways for bad.
If I could speak to my eighteen-year-old self, here are a few words I’d give:
1. Life is seasonal. Many relationships, blessings, and hardships will come and go. Enjoy them while they last. Know the bad things will eventually change. Most friendships are seasonal, not long term.
2. Take a deep dive at knowing yourself. You will help the most people, be the most fulfilled, and receive the greatest benefits when you stay true to the gifts, talents, and passions God has given you.
3. Spend little time worrying over what other people think. Don’t live by other people’s expectations.
4. Discipline and persistence, not talent, are the keys to long-term success.
5. Develop multiple streams of income. Don’t put all your financial eggs in one basket.
6. Take more risks. Don’t play it safe all the time.
7. God is utterly faithful, and His Word is eternally true.
8. Get video or tape recordings of your grandparents and other older special people in your life telling their stories. You will miss them tremendously when they are gone.
9. Society is going to reject truth, love evil, believe lies, and embrace absurdity. Don’t expect to be at home in Zion, but remember biblical heroes like Jeremiah, Daniel, and Old Testament Joseph.
10. The little things will often mean more in the long-run than the things that get the most attention.
11. Buy a lot of stock in Dell, Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon when they go public. I know the names are weird, but trust me.
12. True love and its rewards are worth the wait. Be patient.
Dan Miller’s writings and podcasts have been great encouragement to me. He shares a helpful framework for every decade of life:
Learning (20s) – trying lots of things and making new decisions
Experimenting (30s) – sorting out your interests and eliminating
Mastering (40s) – focusing on your interest and developing skills and expertise
Reaping (50s) – and creating systems to keep you moving forward
Guiding (60s) – mentoring others and leveraging your life message
Leaving a legacy (70s) – preparing for when you are no longer here
Maximizing your zone of genius (80s): spending 75% of your time doing what you do best
Our society glamorizes youth. Classic wisdom, however, honors age, for with age should come wisdom and understanding.
Grandma Moses finished her first for-sale painting at age 76 years, which ultimately sold for $1.2 million. She spent the next 25 years painting.
Colonel Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62.
Laura Ingalls Wilder first published the first Little House book at age 65.
At age 52, Ray Crock purchased McDonald’s.
Ronald Reagan did not hold public office until his 50s.
Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 70.
Peter Roget oversaw every update of Roget’s Thesaurus until his death at age 90.
Miller writes, “If you plant corn, it will mature in
180 days. If you plant bamboo, it will mature in five years. If you plant
walnut trees, they will mature in forty years. My recommendation, be doing all three
in every stage of life. Be doing things that will give you a return in six
months, in five years and in forty years.”
That’s good advice. I wrote the following prayer as a reflection on my 50th birthday. I hope it encourages someone:Help me hold on to those things that reflect my true self, not driven by other voices, but Yours.
Help me listen to my calling – vocal – vocation – innately from within – congruent with the materials entrusted to me by my Creator.
Help me hold loosely the expectations of others, so I can pursue the best things, expanding on my unique abilities and passions, thus serving the greatest good where my deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.
Help me look back only for wisdom and thanksgiving. Keep my gaze moving forward, letting go of yesterday's losses, building on the strength of the past, embracing today’s limitless opportunities, and expecting a fruitful and prosperous tomorrow.
Help me create legacy, assisting, encouraging, and empowering fellow travelers and friends on life’s journey, embracing the good and walking in the divine Presence of the Unseen One.
Help me take action, thinking deeply, treasuring wisdom, grasping opportunity, making decisions, living creatively, sharing generously, advancing positively, choosing now, embracing love, faith, hope, truth, and joy – and dreams that parallel with God's reality.
Help me to laugh, reflect, rest, and enjoy the most important blessings of life.