Sixty Ain’t No Big Thing

imageSixty had been coming for a long time, but along the way it went through a few transitions. Growing up in the ’60s, the thought of being sixty seemed impossible. We were convinced that if our parents didn’t blow the world up, they would surely poison us. I guess our generation lost that hotshot save-the-planet attitude somewhere along the way. Looking back, it seems that the changes those old folks made like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Keep America Beautiful campaign actually helped. Looking around, it seems like we are willing to turn the clock back on the environment. But this isn’t about environmental policy; this is about my recent birthday.

Thirty. Thirty was the much hyped dangerous milestone for our generation. That barrier was hard enough to imagine but when I crossed it I quickly learned that there was nothing inherently untrustworthy about me. Then again, maybe that’s when my generation started sliding into a “what’s in it for me?” mentality – an unfortunate tag that seems to characterize us even more than rock and roll. Maybe that was what we were afraid of, what we would become.

At thirty, getting to sixty still seemed an unbearable imagejourney, but it wasn’t scary. I was half way there and the world hadn’t blown up, the air and the water were getting cleaner and I had a job. From pollution to nuclear weapons to unemployment to a Prime Rate of 21.5% (Dec 19, 1980); we had stepped away from the brink of danger.

Like many in my generation, my 30’s involved becoming a parent. It also involved understanding that my parents hadn’t been stupid. Unfortunately, I was still in my twenties when I lost my father to an untimely death. Coming to terms with his passing was made a little easier by realizing that he had accomplished most of the things he wanted to do. I just wish that he had had more time, time to enjoy himself after a life of hard work, time to meet his 2nd granddaughter and time to pass along more of his wisdom. I have had to glean that wisdom from his early lessons and from conversations with my brother.

I think the combination of events surrounding my 30th year also imagetaught me that life can’t be measured in decades. Life is about moments, not years and certainly not clumps of years. If I measured my life in decades, they would be filed under the headings of “meh” “stuff happened” “we survived” or “bad decisions made” “good decisions made.” Those terms would be meaningless averages at best and mere metadata at worst. To say that I remember being a parent in my 30’s overlooks the big picture – that I am still a parent and that I’m still someone’s child. It also overlooks a thousand little pictures – my daughter learning to ride a bike – building a treehouse – my wife baking bread and cookies – decorating our house for the holidays – owning a pickup truck. Technically, I owned two trucks for almost a decade apiece, but they were each a rolling collection of moments.

The summary of my 20’s would simply read: “it ended well” giving no clue to the myriad stories trapped between “what have I done?” and “so much better now.” My 20’s included two college educations, two cross-country relocations, four (almost five) jobs, a failed marriage and a true love found. There is no way to blend those ingredients; they all need their own space. They are individual stories. Some may never be told, but none will be forgotten.

In addition, each story is a thread in the sorry, that was heading toward a cliché, not a bad one, but a cliché none the less. Those stories deserve better. Those stories are unique. Individually, some of the stories are funny. Some are sad. Some are life lessons (that’s become a cliché, but it’s still in my tag line so it’s OK) and some, well I haven’t figured out what some of them mean. Some are still too painful to think about for very long and I glossed over others when I tucked them away, unaware of the lesson or the meaning they hold.

Turning sixty is was no big deal. As they say, “it beats the imagealternative” but in many ways, it’s just another marker. My mother will be 90 in April, which seems like an impossible feat to accomplish. Here we go again.


Pictures – During my 60th (and her 30th) year on earth, my daughter and I attempted a photo-a-day project. Ironically, the event began and ended at a Chili Cook-off at the company where Faith works. The top picture is the final picture in my set. The middle picture is Faith standing at the shore of Lake Erie. I watched that lake become polluted to the point of us not being able to enter the water due to the mass of dead fish. Today, it is cleaner than I remember it ever being. The next photo is Faith supervising the building of a “tree house” playscape. I think she was saying “build it higher please!” The final picture is the sign at the church where my mother was a member for 75 years until she moved to Iowa.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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75 Responses to Sixty Ain’t No Big Thing

  1. mihrank says:

    You have a great appeal, saying 60’s is going to look young energy and going through some positive changes, just like my grand parents, they still believe they both are in the college. The old generation is the best!

    http://kmihran.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/mihran-kalaydjian-mino-performing-to-you-alone-piano/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 60 is a great age! You’ll think it’s even greater as you get older. I’ve often said I’d like to be 60 again now that I’m way past that age! Live and love each milestone!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay says:

    Happy Birthday to you, Dan! I whip out that AARP card any chance I get! Sometimes I confuse it with AAA, but who cares… :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill's Scene says:

    I just read this aloud to my husband – he’ll be celebrating his sixtieth in a few months. His response: “What a great post.” And I second that! Many, many happy returns of the day to you, Dan.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. nickwallen says:

    Hope you have some suitably fantastic celebrations Dan. Here’s to 30 More!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Paul says:

    Good post, Dan. 60 IS going to be a good year. Age is more a state of mind than of body. I know a lot of people who are younger by age, but who seem much older. They have a crotchety mindset, you know? Conversely, I know some people who are quite advanced in years, but still seem very youthful because of their attitude. My advice? Watch “Kick the Can” again. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sandi says:

    Happy birthday, Dan! So cool that you and your daughter did the photo-a-day project together! Turning 50 was a tough one for me, but maybe I’ll have mellowed by the time 60 rolls around. I enjoyed reading your reflections about the the past: so true that pollution seems, amazingly, to have improved in some ways since the 1960s. I liked your observation about measuring your life not in decades but in moments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Sandi. I guess I had an advantage of sorts. Growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, I experienced some serious pollution so the improvements might have been easier to see. Unfortunately, Faith lost a bunch of her photos when her phone got wet. We’ll try it again. I joked that we can plan on 60-90 :)

      Like

  8. A very happy birthday to you, Dan! What a lovely post to mark this special milestone. I like how you expressed your thoughts on life, “Life is about moments, not years and certainly not clumps of years”. I wish for you many, many more memorable, warm, and happy moments! Best wishes to your daughter in this her 30th year and to your mom as she approaches her 90th year.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Sammy D. says:

    Happy Belated Birthday, Dan and welcome to the 60s redux (if I don’t use an apostrophe you can be in the 60s of your choice)! I love starting a new decade – it always feels like a clean slate, and excites me to think of what I can pursue, learn and accomplish in the coming ten years. I hope this decade will bring you much joy and I know you will use your accumulated wisdom well.

    I am sorry you lost your father at such a young age for both of you. Your mother sounds like my Aunt Kay – she lost Uncle Art way too soon and carried on with dignity and pluck.

    Thanks for sharing yourself in this writing. I am enjoying our walks together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Sammy. I’m looking forward to the 60s. I’m still using the same slate at work, but that’s changed a lot in the past 10 too.

      Like

      • Sammy D. says:

        Dan, your paragraph that touched on good times, bad times, what we spend time figuring out and what we let stay bygones; forgiving, forgetting, what we can’t forget – lots of musings and past history there. It’s all things I write privately about. It was no surprise to me that our wavelengths correlate.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dan Antion says:

          I have been writing notes about these things privately too. I’m trying to find a way to include some of this stuff in these posts. It’s a mix of finding courage, avoiding too-much-information, not wanting to hurt peoples’ feelings, not wanting to make people mad and not being called out for remembering things my way or, as I like to say “the way they happened.” Thanks as always for the encouraging comments.

          Like

          • Sammy D. says:

            Indeed. I’ve read a few posts about that ‘the way it happened’ and do intend to publish my thoughts on that.

            And the sensitivity to others is a factor – balancing writing glowingly about a particular family member or critically about another vis-a-vis their impact on me – either of those two choices could cause discomfort. I’m treading carefully, for now.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy Birthday, Dan. I enjoyed your thought process, find you very entertaining and full of knowledge. By no means is that code for old. No black balloons being given out by me. :) Enjoy your week!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy Birthday, I still can’t believe I’m that same number.

    Like

  12. Stephen Thom says:

    What a wonderful post, I was glad to have read it, I think about time too much so this made me look at things differently. Many congratulations on your 60th, all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. prior says:

    loved this post Dan – and “Life is about moments, not years and certainly not clumps of years.” yeah baby – oh – and I have to link this post to my post from artier this weekend – hope you don;t mind, but the timing of your 60th post was right on time for my Titian post – have a great day (old man – just kidding – and still laughing at how you said “20’s would simply read: “it ended well” ha)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: wpc- achievement (race day shirt, Titian art) | priorhouse blog

  15. gpcox says:

    You have the perfect frame of mind to enter this stage – I’ve only been in it myself for 4 years, but attitude is everything! Great post, Dan!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. “Life is about moments, not years and certainly not clumps of years.”
    I fully agree with your perspective on the passing of time. Don’t you think that it feels like we are living several lives? Although they belong to the same person and are somehow chronological, they can be so distinct from each other that sometimes I feel like being a whole different person.
    I understand how you would have liked for your dad to be around for a longer time. I feel lucky that mine passed when I was already a mother and a mature adult.
    As always, even on a pretty serious topic, your writing is filled with humor. And good pictures, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Sometimes it would be easier to distance myself from my history if I were a different person. Then I could write about “that guy” as if he were a character. Time moves on and we change and adapt and respond to feedback. So many things changed in my life after getting married and being happy even when times were difficult. Thanks for the kind words and for commenting.

      Like

  17. Happy Birthday Dan! I love your positive outlook about this birthday. I’ve always like this quote, “Formula for Youth” – count your blessings, not your wrinkles, Youth happens, but age is earned.”
    ~anon

    I’m going to share this post with He-Man who will be 60 next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Happy Belated Birthday :)
    As you know, I don’t buy into ageism. I remember you commenting that you’d been married way longer than I, and I remember something you wrote where the year seemed way too early, but finally, you wrote you were almost 60, which demonstrates my mathematical ineptitude, and I recall writing, “I had no idea you were 60,” which reminds me of how I feel when people say, “Oh wow, you’re 40?” Hehe. But I don’t know what old is, really. I think my neighbor Jim is old. He’s a Korean war vet, and he often says, “I woke up today, so I guess I’ve still got a reason to be here.” I guess when one feels like that, one might be old.
    I don’t think my life is decades. I think mine might be grouped as stretches of 6-7 years.
    I think the older we get, we know better how to spend our time — which is, as you put it, about MOMENTS. Great post :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. My mother is 4-5 months away from being 90 and she gets mad if you suggest that she’s old. Her and I don’t always agree, and I kinda like messing with her so I tell her she’s old but I think she has a good attitude about age. Then again, she lives in an elderly apartment complex and her neighbor is 104 so maybe 90 is the new 40. Who knows?

      My neighbor is also a Korean War vet and he is old but he still takes care of his house and yard. I guess it really is a state of mind.

      Thanks for the comment

      Liked by 1 person

  19. jolynnpowers says:

    you make getting to 60 sound like a breeze… so glad that you think it was worth the journey! Happy birthday Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Other than try to stay healthy and be safe around woodworking equipment, I didn’t have to do much JoLynn. I’m not so sure about getting to 90 though. Thanks for the comment and birthday wish.

      Like

  20. Dan Hennessy says:

    You’re doin’ a good job. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ .

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Wendy Brydge says:

    Happy birthday, Dan! Hope you have many more to come. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Peter Nena says:

    Happy birthday, Dan! I’m happy that your mind is still so young and active. I used to think you were about forty, then I saw your daughter’s photos and thought maybe at most fifty. Myself I don’t know if I will reach 60. My ears are filled with a lot of projected bad news about our society. Yesterday I was reading a report on global warming and the author declared that we have reached the point of no return. He compared global warming with cancer and concluded that the earth has acquired a terminal illness and is progressively deteriorating. He said that what the concerned experts have been doing so far is to keep lowering the upper safety limit for carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere from the initial 550ppm to the present 350ppm. A clear indication of futility.
    These, plus other projected calamities that I’m sure you are aware of. To a keen reader, they can obfuscate the future.
    But then, history shows that the earth has seen worse, worse days. I think it will always be here. I hope, therefore, to reach 60!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I read an interesting article about our approach to the environment. The author said “we aren’t saving the Earth, the Earth will survive long after humans are gone.” Maybe that should be our focus Peter.

      I’ve made it to 60 but I do worry about the condition we are leaving the planet in as my selfish generation prepares to make its exit. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. kcg1974 says:

    Wonderful post Dan, with a sense that things may be all right for me in the coming years ahead, since I’m not far behind you! Wishing you a terrific birthday celebration with many more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. cjparsons says:

    Excellent insights, as always. Ought to be required reading in high school, to counter those who think mankind is all bad and bent on destroying the environment. Thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. cjparsons says:

    Every generation has, but at least some of us are working toward a better place. Unfortunately some would be environmentalists don’t have a real clue about how to “protect” the planet beyond getting rid of the humans, so they miss all the ways man helps preserve, protect and establish habitats. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I always enjoy your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m right with you…just the big 60 last May! I certainly am blown away on how fast that happened….seems like one minute my wife and I were dealing with toddlers and now we have children in their 30’s…how did that happen:) I think every generation has been fearful for what the next era will face, especially in a very fast changing world…my philosophy…stay positive and keep the faith!!

    Like

  27. Beautiful, Dan.
    “Life is about moments, not years and certainly not clumps of years.”

    Just lovely how you unpacked some of those moments for us.
    Diana

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Not sure how late I am in wishing you a birthday wish, but here’s A Very Happy Belated Birthday Greetings from me and Sarah. While I too sometimes get kind of nervous that time is quickly passing by and there is so much to do, but I still believe I am what I believe and I believe I am as good as 18 years old right now, so there’s plenty of time on my timer.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Morguie says:

    I am a little late, but I wish you all the best and a very happy birthday. Do enjoy those beautiful things you can do and share with those you love…they will treasure them forever, long after you leave this world.
    Blessings, CJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks CJ. And you are so right. I did so many ordinary things with my dad when I was growing up. He died when he was 60, but I do feel like I have a lifetime of memories with him. I wish I had more, but I am so glad to have what I have. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: 30 Years of Moments | Sound of Swarming

  31. Belated wishes for a happy birthday, Dan. So let me wish you a happy December, holidays, and New Year too! Great post. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. reocochran says:

    I had my 59th on November 15th. So, am on the heels of your shoes, try to leave me a safe path to follow, Dan!
    I admire your daughter and your challenge. Great way to stay connected! Way to go, Dad/Dan! I liked your reminiscing, this was a very special post. Sorry I missed it when it was brand new, but still not a YEAR late, so happy 60th year and may it be blessed and wonderful in everything that comes your way, some unexpected pleasures and expected happiness, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Glynis Jolly says:

    I came to your blog by another one. I scanned your sidebar to see if you had any interesting posts. You have a lot of them. When I saw the one about turning 60, of course, I clicked on it. I turned 60 last September. And believe it or not, my mom turns 90 in March.

    All these specific ages that send some people into orbit never effected me that way. So I’m 16 and can finally drive legally — so what. I’m 21 and can finally drink legally — I was pregnant so no alcohol. What was that thing about 30?The age of 42 hit me for about 2 days. I did jump for joy when I hit 50. I could say and do more things without so many people rolling their eyes at me — people over 50 are allowed to be a little weird. Last September was glorious. My weight is no long number one priority. I can express how I feel about certain relatives with wisdom I’ve earned as long as I use tact. The 60s are going to be marvelous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Glynis. 1954 was a good year for babies, that’s all I have to say. I am glad to hear that you’re looking forward and not worrying about the milestones. Thanks for following. I am now following your blog too. This is the best thing about this community, the way it grows organically over time through mutual connections.

      Liked by 1 person

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