Those of you who have read any Shakespeare probably know The Seven Ages of Man, depicted in the image above.
In big picture terms, our lives are linear, moving inexorably from beginning to end. During that span of years we delineate as our lives, there come changes. Some are quite dynamic, others sneak up on us and catch us apparently unaware.
I love my job, and I have no plans of retiring in the near future. My goal is to work another 9 years. At that time I will turn 70 years old.
Thankfully, I still have the physical and mental abilities to perform at a high level. Certainly, I have had physical challenges over the past few years. What person does not in his or her fifties? Three years ago I suffered from an extremely bad case of gout, something from which I have suffered since my thirties. I missed 3 days of school then, mainly because I could not walk, and the pain was intense. Counting those 3 days, I have only missed 4 1/2 days in the past 13 years because of illness. However, an intentional change of diet, and a loss of 40-45 pounds has apparently been the answer.
But the changes keep coming, and this year I have made 2 decisions that will help me adjust to my stage of life. First, I will not being rising in the morning as early as I have been for the past 13 years. I am going to be sleeping in until 6:00 a.m. every morning, instead of groping about in the darkness at 4:45 or so. This means I will not be getting to school as early, nor bearing the responsibilities I have had where I have been on duty since about 7:00 a.m.
Sleeping in until 6:00 will mean that I will not have to be in bed by 9:00-9:30 p.m. each night as well. It has seemed like I have missed a lot of life going to bed that early.
The second decision I have made involves sports writing. Last year I went to high school sporting events and wrote sports write-ups for football, basketball, and baseball for a friend’s website. I have been involved in sports since I can remember, and I enjoyed writing again after a few years’ break. However, most of the time it meant not being in bed before midnight. I could keep that schedule 30 years ago when I took up the task of sports writing. Not any more.
I feel far from the last 2 ages of man. I do feel the practical effects of getting older, however. Sometimes I look in the mirror in the morning, and I see the effects of getting older as well.
There is a rather poignant episode of Rod Serling’s classic TV series The Twilight Zone, titled Changing of the Guard. It deals with aging and being forcibly put out to pasture. It details the mental and emotional effects on a person whose time to quit had come, but he did not know it. I highly recommend it to all my teaching colleagues, and anyone else whoever doubts the impact that their life has made any difference.
I plan on a very enjoyable end of this fifth stage that I believe I am in, however long that may be. I plan on finishing it with all the energy I can muster. I never want to coast. If I find myself doing that, I will have to consider calling an end to what I do. Right now, though, I am filled with enthusiasm and new ideas.
Also, I am ready to make adjustments so that I can finish the race in the best fashion possible.