70 Years Old. WTF!
70 Years Old. WTF!
There, I said it again. That's my mood at this moment. I'm here, a computer on my lap, looking out my bedroom window. What I see is gorgeous. What I feel is great. And then I think: I'm 70 years old. And then I think, WTF!
And then I think it again. WTF!
It's inconceivable! Just like Sicilian in The Princess Bride says.
Wasn't I thirty years old just a half-hour ago?
And now, here I am, 70. Seventy. Sev-en-ty. Man, that sounds old. But I don't feel old. I just feel like---like WTF!
Oh, yeah, I said that before. Maybe that means I'm old. Old people repeat themselves a lot, don't they? Well, WTF?
I just don't get it at all.
I was a teenager once. Really. I knew what it would be like to get old back then, the same way I knew everything back then.
I knew what old was. It was thirty. When you hit thirty, your life was pretty much over. And then I got to be thirty, and I found out it wasn't over. It was just starting. And I realized that my teenage self was an arrogant idiot.
Now, at 70, I realize my thirty-year-old self was an idiot. And my forty-year-old self.
One of the things I’ve told our kids repeatedly: “If you don’t look back on what you were doing five years ago and think that a lot of it was stupid, then you haven’t learned much in the last five years.”
"I can't believe how stupid I was when I was in my twenties," I said to my grandmother, the redoubtable Nana, about whom you may hear more stories than the one I am about to tell if I ever stop adding qualifying phrases and get on with it.
"People are always talking about going back and being young again," I continued. "There isn't enough money to pay me to be that stupid again."
Nana, approaching ninety, thought for a long minute. She lived in Florida in housing for Senior Citizens. She had gotten married and divorced in her eighties.
"You're right," she said when I finished describing her in this blog post. "I can’t believe how stupid some of those sixty-five-year-olds I live with are!"
Now I'm seventy (Seventy!), except for assorted physical complaints, seventy is better than thirty.
Now I want to try to explain to you and me what I'm trying to do besides looking out the window and typing. What's the master plan?
Here is December 31st, 2012, one day after my 70th birthday. We celebrated the day quietly. No fanfare. Not significant, the way I'm making it significant right now. That significance is an excuse for what I'm doing.
My seventieth birthday? After a day spent relaxing, a quiet dinner with my wife, and installing Linux on a couple of virtual machines on the SSD that my kids had given me for my birthday.
Does your idea of a 70-year-old include a birthday spent installing Linux and virtual machines on an SSD?
It might if you're not thinking just of a 70-year-old but a 70-year-old geek.
(WARNING! Non-geeks can skip to the next paragraph, which will continue in English. Or skip to the end of this parenthetical digression, which (you will find if you count (nested) parentheses) will put you right before the next paragraph. See, I wasn't just installing Linux and virtual machines on an SSD. I was installing Ubuntu 12.10, "Quantal Quetzal," on the SSD I had just put in my Lenovo W520 Notebook, with its Intel Core i7 8-core 2+GHz processor, 6GB memory, and 15" screen. And it wasn't just any old virtual machines. I was running a virtualized, clean install of Windows 7 Business, a virtualized clean install of Ubuntu 12.10 that I intended to use as my principal development environment, and a copy of the Windows 7 machine that I'd been using for the past several months (TODO: Explain) that I have virtualized using VMWare's vCenter Converter Standalone Client that I had downloaded (Thank you VMWare!) And here, the opening parentheses close.)
I seemed to have digressed and was about to apologize, but on reflection, no, I didn't digress. So I'll save the apology for another time, and instead, I'll explain why I seemed to digress but didn't. See what I did? I said I was going to explain, and I didn't. I went the other way. I've gone from describing why my digression wasn't a digression to a back-reference to "When Harry Met Sally." Which is another digression. See what I did?
What I did was write an example of what I plan to write as part of what I'm calling Project 70: a plan to take all of the random and sometimes interesting shit that runs through my head and write it.
Because I think that in seventy years, I've learned a few things worth writing down.
Because I've lived a life with some interesting and amusing bits, and that's worth writing down.
Because I'm learning and experiencing new things, I forget them almost as fast as I learn and experience them. (That's not because I'm seventy, although it has worsened. But we all forget things. I remember being a kid and looking back at some stuff I had written when I was even more of a kid and being surprised at what I'd known--and forgotten.)
But mainly because I love to write, and I write enough. I've used all kinds of tricks to get myself to write more, and Project 70 is the latest trick.
Project 70 is about changing the one thing in my life--my not-writing-enough habit--that I most want to change. And then using that change to do some other things. Or just to write.
Project 70 is not about being seventy. It's just an excuse for a project that I think might be fun.