Big birthdays are tough for some people, especially the decade milestones. They often trigger feelings about what you have not done, instead of what you have done . . . what you haven’t got, instead of what you have. You measure how old you are, and not how young you feel. Essentially, we spend a lot of anguished time looking backward and forward and not nearly enough time looking at now.
I don’t know if this has happened to you yet, but I went to visit an old friend’s Facebook profile recently in order to send him a private message. I have known Nick since the early 90s, and last time I heard from him he was having a “minor medical procedure” and was going to be off work for a couple of weeks.
When his Wall popped up, I was shocked to see the string of rest-in-peace messages. Nick passed away in December and no one had told me. He was just a couple of years older than me, and left behind a wife and two young daughters. My heart goes out to his family, and my head goes to my own mortality.
I went back to look at the last few messages we exchanged. When I hit my big milestone last year, he offered this bit of comfort, “As far as turning 50 goes, David . . . it is just a number of trips around the sun. This may be the best time of your life, right now. It is for me!”
I loved this so much that I continue to pass it on in birthday wishes to other friends. “Enjoy your trip around the sun!”
Nick always had a way of putting people at ease. We are all hurtling through space at high speed on a rotating ball of elemental fury, constantly looking forward and back at what should be and what might have been. Our lives could end at any moment for reasons completely out of our control and yet . . . Nick could look at “now” and feel grateful for what he had.
I will miss your optimism Mr. Tucker. You made life sound like one big thrill ride.