Congenial Wisdom

I turned seventy years old yesterday. Wait! That cannot be right! What the hell…?

One day can make an enormous difference. Yesterday transported me from my early-old-age-sixties to my progressively-older-age seventies. Among the few distinct thoughts I recall having in my youth was the idea that I would not make it past age sixty; no reason for it, just a concept that got lodged in my head. Later, the idea of reaching age seventy seemed ludicrous; after my history of potentially deadly flaws and maladies, I thought it extremely unlikely I would become a septuagenarian.

My body offers plenty of evidence of my age, but my mind tells me to remain firmly fixed at a point far in the past. A time, that is, when my mind and my body were in sync—and considerably younger. While that youthful attitude is no doubt healthy, it cannot disguise an obvious decline in intellectual capabilities and capacities. But one day did not cause that decline! The accumulation of days, layered one over the other in a seemingly endless pattern, is what led me to the slope one the right side of the bell curve.  I am not complaining about the dissolution of aspects of my self as I age; I am merely acknowledging the situation. Thinning hair and drying skin and forgetfulness are minor; they start so discreetly and they usually progress slowly, reaching their peak only after the body has reached ultra-old-age, which is different for everyone. Bodies change as they age. It’s a simple fact; only reality.

The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

~ H. L. Mencken ~


We celebrated my birthday last night with pizza delivered to our door. I was not (and rarely am) in the mood to go out for a special dinner at a pricey restaurant. Maybe sometime in the coming weeks, but yesterday I had no interest.

Mi novia and I had hoped to watch another episode of Annika after dinner, but we learned Season 2 is being released on PBS (and thereafter on our service) episode-by-episode. Instead, then, we started watching Long Shot. It has so far been mildly entertaining and improbably stupid. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly the sort of mindless entertainment one needs; whether that’s true of Long Shot going forward remains to be seen. I want something on the same level (and degree of interest to me) as Bosch or Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy or Dicte (or one of dozens of others that have held me riveted until the final scene. Sighhh…


The day before my birthday, I treated myself to both a manicure and a pedicure. On a whim, just before noon, I called one of the few nail places scattered about the Village, to ask whether they could fit me in. They could, they said, if I were to come in immediately. So I did (sort of immediately…it took 15 minutes to drive there. I have had only a few professional pedicures over the years and only one professional manicure before this one. The cost for each of them was, from my miserly perspective, a bit steep. But I threw caution to the wind and gladly paid the cost; even if the only thing the technician had done was to massage my fingers and feet, it would have been worth it.

After I got home, I discovered a few jagged spots on the edges of my fingernails, so I had to do some “clean-up” work (not a real big deal, but I was disappointed that it was necessary). Aside from that minor annoyance, both my feet and my hands felt and looked very good after the treatments. And I was sitting in a massage chair while having all this done; I felt like someone was digging into my back with their elbows and then slowly moving that sharp bone up and down both sides of my back. I was not crazy about that bonus, but the entire experience was rather nice. Here’s a piece of congenial wisdom about good things that don’t go quite right: as long as it’s not bad, it’s good.


Good fortune can mean something as “minor” as having readily available potable water or as “major” as a guaranteed living (comfortably) wage for life. In my case, good fortune means essentially every aspect of my life. I have a comfortable home, am in a loving relationship, have access to all the food and water I need, and am awash in luxuries: big-screen television, espresso every morning, dining “out” without worry about the cost, etc., etc., etc. It would take literally days for me to enumerate all the elements of good fortune that have been visited upon me. I want a pen, I get a pen. I want a stapler, I get a stapler. I want a computer, I get a computer. I want a car, I get a car. Now, every one of these material “things” may not be the most expensive or highest quality, but they each serve their purpose; I’m lucky I am in the shape I’m in…


Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.

~ Tom Wilson ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Congenial Wisdom

  1. Colleen Boardman says:

    John…FYI: Long Shot is a movie, not a series. There is no more Long Shot to watch. That was it. Perhaps a little too much birthday inebriation??

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