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Fifty-Nine and not holding

By Mike Ruffin Now hear this: I turned 59 a few days ago. Math was never my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure that’s one less than 60. I’ll hit that milestone next year, Lord willing. I’ve reached the point in life at which many folks start slowing down as they move toward retirement. Not me. I’m just getting cranked up. Before I say anything else about that, let me state that if it all ends tomorrow, I’ve already had a better life than I ever hoped or dreamed I’d have. I have a good wife, remarkable children and a fine grandson. I’ve had a fulfilling and varied career and I love the job and side projects I have now. I’ve had and have many good friends. I’ve seen a lot of places. I’ve had a lot of experiences, some bad and most good. I have no complaints. It’s been a full life and I’m grateful for every second of it. But if the Lord gives me more years and at least moderately good health, I have no intention of throttling back. There’s just too much to do, too much to learn and too much to be. I’m going to keep growing until I draw my last breath. I want to learn to speak at least one more language (I’m torn between Spanish and Arabic. I may do both). I want to fill in the gaps in my education, especially in science. I want to read 5,000 more books. I want to see more of the world. I want to write a novel. I want to write the lyrics to one song that at least one person records. I want to write one poem that gets published. I’ve written one memoir, but I want to write another one. I’m privileged to teach two groups of freshmen at Gordon State College. They’re 40 years younger than I am. When I look at them, I think about how they have so many years ahead of them. I remember how, when I was their age, life seemed to stretch out so far ahead of me I could scarcely imagine that the road had an end. Now I realize there’s a stop sign up ahead that I can’t avoid. But I can and will ignore the yield signs that I’ll encounter along the way. I admit to some frustration. I know I won’t get everything done I want to do. I know some of my goals will remain unmet and some of my dreams will go unfulfilled. But I’ll tell you this: I’m going to have a good time trying. And when it’s all over, no one will be able to say I wasted my time. I don’t know what I’ll die of, but it won’t be boredom. And I don’t know what I’ll die with, but it won’t be regret. Mike Ruffin reflects further on his mortality in his book Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life. It’s available from online booksellers and makes a great Christmas gift.

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