Do you want to know something? I’m not a kid anymore. I just think I am.
My age meter is clearly malfunctioning because my mind still thinks I’m 18. But my body occasionally elbows my mind in the ribs to remind it that I’m not.
Oh sure, I can still walk any distance, stay up too late, round up cattle on horseback all day, rope at brandings, team rope if I want to and drive from Phoenix to Dickinson, North Dakota, in two days easily enough.
But then that new higher number keeps popping up each year on the same day reminding me of my mortality and appointment with the Good Lord Above. And I keep trying to ignore it because, let’s face it, a birthday is no longer the “breakfast in bed/showered with gifts” event it once was.
And people keep sending me cards and things to remind me of my mortality, to, in essence, reprimand my mind because it is still stuck on 18.
Then, of course, society or the world looks down upon you if your mind is stuck on 18 because no one deserves to be 18 forever. The world wants us to feel the burden, the weight of decades of life on our shoulders, to eventually give up and flush our dreams down the toilet because, after all, you’re too old, it’s too late and you have to accomplish things by a certain age or you’re out of luck.
The world even expects you, when you reach a certain age, to put yourself out to pasture and to act in a certain, tone-downed, mellow, stay out of the way kind of way.
Fortunately I did a couple of things that were smart, early on, even if I did a million that were stupid. And that was to lift weights regularly and not smoke cigarettes. Those two things alone may have added years to my life but, more importantly, have enabled me to do things I’ve always done and more.
And yes, there is the genetics factor because people in my family live almost forever, and that certainly helps. After all, my grandmother still thought she was 18 when she was 99 and never could quite comprehend the passage of time, simply because it was so fast.
When you are 18 you have a list of things that you want to accomplish in life, but it seems like “forever” to do it in. And then suddenly, as if you’ve participated in time travel, you’ve wasted a few decades trying to make a living and are faced with having to accomplish it all in the shorter time that you have left.
And just so you know, the current life expectancy for the U.S. in 2021 is 78.99 years, which is a 0.08% increase from 2020, despite the most recent pandemic.
So what do you do?
As famous ’70s singer/songwriter James Taylor once said, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”
If that’s the case, I’m a big winner and I’ve won the grand prize because I’ve really enjoyed my time, and I do more so every day.”
But maybe former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt summed it up best when she said, “Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. And that is why it is called the present.”
Happy birthday everyone, every day!
Kevin Holten is a columnist and executive producer of “Special Cowboy Moments” on RFD-TV.