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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Doing 60

When William Least Heat-Moon wrote Blue Highways he recorded adventures on the smaller state roads of America instead of traveling on the high-speed interstates. But even on the backroads, you can still do 60. On this particular backroad of life that I travel, I find that I am doing 60 now, too.

So you would think that after six decades on this planet, I would have some meaningful insights to pass on that would make reading this journal mandatory, or at least interesting. Don’t expect so much! But if you have an interest, read beyond the cut for my take on six decades.

1949-1959

You know you really don’t have conscious memories of your own birth. From what I understand, it was one of those traumatic experiences that I’m well-off not remembering. Big baby, little opening, calipers,… ick.

Well, that’s pretty much what I remember of most of my first ten years. Ick. But I do remember where I lived, and for most of my life that setting has anchored many of my dreams and early memories. I lived at 55301 North Elder Road on a ten-acre piece of property that included a maple grove and a lot of sandburs. We plowed the fields each year, but I don’t remember ever planting anything. My first phone number was Blackburn (BL)5-8493, a 5-party line on which our ring was three shorts.

Maybe what I remember most about that time was sitting in the highest branches of the willow tree. It was my refuge and solace. It was a place where all things were possible. It was where I looked out at the world and saw possibility. It is one thing every child should have.

1959-1969

Ah yes. Who doesn’t remember their teens? Then again, who wants to? For me, it marked some of the biggest changes of my life. I was given the chance to “start over” when I moved from the homestead to a new school district in a galaxy far, far away as a sophomore in high school.

I was no longer seen as the undesirable poor kid who wore his best friend’s hand-me-downs. Suddenly I was a star-student with a girlfriend, president of the sophomore class.

I was also more sure of myself—ignorance breeds confidence—than at any time of my life. I knew what my career would be, how I would keep from being drafted, what was morally right and wrong (on a global scale if not personally), and where I would spend eternity.

In other words, I was oblivious.

I was a big fish in a small pond (65 people in my graduating class), but had no idea what all the other fish were up to. My eyes were on the opening door and not on the roomful of people around me.

The week after my high school graduation, I was licensed to preach in the United Methodist Church and then I headed off to college where a whole new world opened up to me. I spent the last summer of the decade bicycling cross-country. For all my independence, I discovered how dependent I was on “the kindness of strangers.”

1969-1979

I came out of college with degrees in Theatre and English, a new wife, and my first full-time preaching job. It took less than a year to realize I was a good preacher and a lousy minister. I worked in film for a while and then went to grad school in Minnesota as a theatrical designer cum playwright.

After designing and building 24 shows in 24 months, and seeing the production of my first two plays, my total burnout resulted in the end of my marriage and an abrupt exit from a full-time theatrical career. By the end of the decade, I’d gone into something low-stress (publishing???) and a new marriage, sort of.

1979-1989

I became an entrepreneur on two weeks notice. I weathered bankruptcy and the end of the sort-of marriage, and came out of it as a popular and well-respected electronic publishing trainer. I wrote my first three and several fractions of novels, two more plays, and numerous training manuals.

Best of all, though, I met and married the love of my life. We’d both come through exhausting and stressful long-term relationships and found such peace and solace, joy and excitement with each other that forever suddenly didn’t seem anywhere near enough time. It took me three tries to get it right, but if at first you don’t succeed… You know.

1989-1999

Just three months before my daughter, the joy of my heart, was born, I stepped into entrepreneurial waters again. This time, we were living in Seattle and there was still a market for high-end publishing training. Through the middle of the decade I was working part time as a church youth director and part time as a publishing consultant. That was about the time we realized we weren’t leaving Seattle to return to Minnesota anytime soon. So we bought a house where I’ve now lived longer than anyplace since my first home in Indiana.

I was lured out of my own business into a high-tech start-up. Life was good, and more importantly, I was beginning to write again.

1999-2009

In an era in which the world has been more uncertain and pained than any I’ve known since the late 60s and early 70s, I’ve had the most fruitful decade of my life. I worked for eight years in the even higher-tech company that acquired our little start-up, wrote six and some fraction novels, wrote and produced five plays and returned to the stage in a challenging Shakespeare role.

And since the economy tanked and my job security evaporated, I’ve been more productive than since I started my first business thirty years ago. It is exciting and terrifying. And if I am no longer willing to work the 100 hours plus per week that I did in my 30s, perhaps I’ve learned enough to not have to work those hours.

After 21 years of marriage to the right woman and 16 years of fatherhood to the perfect daughter, I’m satisfied with my sixth decade and actually look forward to the next six!

I’ve always been ambivalent about birthday cakes (see my memoir “First Memory”) but the Darling Wife has outdone herself this year by sculpting this beauty out of donut holes! In the center, 60 is written in Roman numerals, “LX,” the way we wrote it back in the old days when I was a kid.



And if you’ve made it through this much and aren’t totally exhausted by TMI, check out http://nathaneverett.rememberswhen.com where I am gradually building my memoirs.

Here’s to the next 60 years!

Comments

Happy Birthday. I love the synopsis of your life. I'll definitely have to check out your memoirs.