I was recently 65 years old, another milestone in life’s highway. There are milestones and then there are milestones. I remember some better than others. For example, I remember 13. I was a teenager and it was a special birthday in our family. My parents gave each of us a special gift at 13 and I received a pair of binoculars. I still have them. It was and always will be a special gift. Then there was 21 and adulthood, 30 and a passage into wisdom (from my perspective), 40 and the feeling of uncertainty about getting any older. Now 65. This was always the age of retirement from a popular perspective at least. For me, however, it was something altogether different. Although I do feel exhausted physically at times, it is a feeling of satisfying exhaustion nonetheless. I don’t feel like a new car, that’s for sure. It is more like my old Honda with 244,000 miles on it. If those cylinders could talk they would have a story of service to tell; a very content and peaceful story of many, many miles traveled with still more to come.
A lot of things don’t work on the Honda any more. Two of the four doors don’t lock and the rear passenger door won’t open at all. The tailgate doesn’t shut completely. The muffler is hanging by a strap. There is a creak and groan in the front end that has something to do with a ball joint or steering rod. The air conditioner works hard but doesn’t cool. The dash panel lights work if you hit the dash in the right spot hard enough. The check engine light never goes out because of some vague problem no one has yet to figure out. With all these problems the dashboard is a display of red, blue, green and yellow lights, since warning lights continually remind me of things that don’t work well, shut tight or even know specifically what hurts. Yet, every time I walk out into the garage to slip into my now classic car, it is inviting and somehow courageously comforting. She doesn’t pretend anything because pretense is for new things that have something to prove with their yet untested gadgets and state of the art offerings. She starts on an old battery that should have been replaced years ago. Nevertheless, since the cylinders lack 100% compression, there is less resistance and an excuse to rationalize keeping the old battery. She is always ready to go and to give, just as long as I don’t mind going up hills more slowly and being a little more careful on those sharp turns. My old Honda is always ready to go, eager to give 100% of what she has to give, and, even more importantly, there aren’t a lot of cars on the road that have run through so many puddles, swerved to avoid so many deer, and accelerated so many times to get on the freeway. You just can’t replace all this irreplaceable oldness?
Like that old Honda I am a well-used guy. At 65 I’ve put over 42 years of non-stop service on this body. I’ve parked next to a lot of newer models in jobs over my life. Being an older Boomer there were the younger Boomers, Generation X-er’s and now the latest Millennial models. They can do things I can’t do well or at all. Most of their stuff works and they get up the hills of life quicker and can make those sharp turns with better accuracy and speed. They have neat accessories I don’t have and, frankly don’t need. There are a lot of idiot lights in my life that warn of advancing problems. But, you know, I still run pretty well and have a comfortableness about me that just says just get in and drive. It’s nice being a classic and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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