Entering the autumn of my life: A reflection

Here, where I live, autumn arrived with beauty, warmth and vibrant colour. I can only hope these past few weeks stand as a good omen for the coming year. A glimmer of light in the midst of a seemingly endless global pandemic.

Today marks a milestone for me, one I have dreaded, on and off, for the past year. It is my sixtieth birthday. It feels odd to say that. Without a long standing cohort of peers, friendships reaching back into high school or college, I have friends who are older and friends who are younger—some thirty years younger or more. There is a certain agelessness afforded by the way we reach out and make contact in the internet era.

I was late to open online engagement. I was guarded and relatively anonymous during my working years. I had to be. The sudden, unexpected end of my career opened a very different door. One without borders. One that has led me across the globe to places I never thought I’d ever see, meeting and making new friends along the way.

Yet, there have been great challenges, great joys, and many long, lonely nights.

Now, as I turn sixty, I am in better shape than I’ve been in years—a cranky right knee and diagnosed bone loss notwithstanding. In fact, it is the latter factor that has done more for my commitment to regular daily exercise than any other half baked New Year’s Resolution. I walk, hike, and  run at least four days a week, and complete a strength/weight training routine on alternate days. That’s why the fantastic weather we’ve enjoyed during this year of social distancing has been so welcome—there’s rarely been an excuse not to venture out. But I wonder if getting out onto the trails and disappearing into the forest for an hour or more, no matter how important for my physical health, has served as an escape from something else. Something I don’t want to face.

Reading and writing has been difficult. I’ve fought with blockages on both fronts. I realize I’m not alone in this during these exceptional times, however, when I’m out and on the move—especially running—I feel free. The focus on the body is a release from the weight of thinking about my life. To run rough trails your attention has to be on where your feet are. For a time you can forget your troubles.

But, back at home, I can’t help looking back. Measuring the challenges, the joys and the lonely nights and wonder what I have to show for sixty years. My life has led me down pathways and trails I could never have anticipated—I suppose everyone can say that when they stop along the way to take stock—and, especially during  this unique moment, the road ahead is less than certain. That’s the reality of being in the world.

So, on this first of October, 2020, I have to be glad that I am still here in the world, with so many friends and promises. I’m also very fortunate to have a network of pathways and trails that I do know intimately. I have, after all, been following them for almost half my life. They offer certainty and refuge in uncertain times.

And what could be more important than that as I enter a new decade?

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

24 thoughts on “Entering the autumn of my life: A reflection”

    1. The title was last minute, tied into the autumn images and, I guess, my anxiety about the number. But when I think about it, when I was younger autumn was my favourite season with a sense of a fresh start with a new school year or program year (at work). And, apart from my knees, don’t feel old…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I got to the same place last year, and although I love autumn as a season I’m like Lisa and rather refusing to be constrained by the concept. I’m happy that you can embrace the positives – the nature and landscape you live in looks wonderful, and I think being able to get out in it and appreciate it at the moment is very important. Happy birthday Joe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. to be “here in the world” — a thought I’ve been cherishing through this long and difficult world. while so much else is critically important, that thought/experience grounds me daily. thanks for the reminder and happy birthday

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy day and year to you! And what remarkable progress in your activity level: that’s wonderful. I’m sure you’ll continue to notice all sorts of benefits as your dedication continues. I use an app to count the minutes I spend on physical activity/exercise and it keeps me engaged and thinking about maintaining/improving from month-to-month. But maybe more importantly, it also reminds me that, even though at times it feels like I spend a lot of time on health routines, and I start to think of other things I could be doing/enjoying, that, in minutes, it’s not anywhere near as much as I’d’ve guessed! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marcie! I have a fitness tracker that I got to track my heart rate, something to watch with a medication I switched to. But it turns out I’m very competitive against a software program. I want to know how far I’ve gone, my pace, my heart rate and even if I have to be careful not to overdo the long workouts, I want to register some exercise every day. A good motivator for my weight/resistance routine which I always think I don’t want to do—until I get into it. It’s actually interesting to see how stress, poor sleep etc really do impact things like resting heart rate.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You think turning 60 is a cause for pause? Wait until you turn 70. That’s when the cold terror creeps up and in and settles. Enjoy your 60s. They are the last good decade.

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