61 is a very big number.
When you are young, you never think you are going to get THAT old. I remember all of us in high school, all very young and very cool. We pictured ourselves so world weary. Hadn't worked a day in our lives, hadn't seen how the world really worked, but we knew all, knew everything, and felt above it. Were we all in for a shock.
Life is hard.
Loving is hard
Living is hard.
It takes work to make a life. They never told us that. Never even really hinted at it. Or, more probably, they yelled it to us bust we couldn't hear those messages. One of our gang kept saying she wanted to die before 40 - you can say those things when you still consider yourself immortal - and we all nodded in complete agreement.
I was luckier that most as Joe and I met in high school. 16 year old boys who would live a life together. I have a companion/friend/lover for all of my adult life. That didn't take away from the reality that:
Life takes work.
Loving takes work.
Living takes work.
Somewhere back in time, I had two catastrophic illnesses. Both were serious threats to my life. Suddenly the 'poetic' idea of kicking the bucket at 40 seemed, um, undesirable because even though the journey through our lifespan meant making a living, earning the respect of others, doing drudgery - working every day, doing vacuuming, paying bills - the payoff for doing those things was pretty high:
Life is worth it.
Love is worth it.
Living is worth it.
The second of the two illnesses took walking with one hand and gave me a wheelchair with another hand. In many ways, that no one could possibly understand but others who've had the same swap, a fair trade. People spoke as if my life was over, as if my life wouldn't be worth living, that I was now less loveable. They were wrong. Really wrong. I think you have to live a bit to get it. You have to have worked until there are blisters on your soul, you've had to do drudgery until you just can't wash another dish, you have to love through and past the conflicts that come when there are two and only one is right. You do. Then you learn bit by bit ... but for me, at 61 a fat, old, gay, disabled man:
Life is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.
Love is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.
Living is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.