So, today I'm 64.
My older brother just wrote saying, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do and if you do don't let me see it on YouTube." I told him I live a boring life and though we have plans, we'll still be in bed by 8. Yep, we're living on the wild side!
I've been asked, fairly often, when people discover that I'm turning 64, if I'm going to retire. I keep giving the wrong answer. When I say that, no, I'd like to work for another 4 years and then reconsider, some look at like a child that got 2 + 2 wrong. I explain that I love my work, that it's a passion as well as a job, they nodded confused. When I explain that I may be old but that my ideas are still young, and I'm still working and thinking and growing and developing and that I want that process to continue, I've been told, but haven't you done enough? I explain that I'll know when I've done enough, I'll know when the ideas slow and the interest wanders, but right now, they are razor sharp. And get met with a little shake of the head before the conversation ends.
Others, the majority thankfully, congratulates me both on turning 64 and on still having something I want to achieve and things I want to say and stuff I need to write and ideas that I want to try out. I have a team of people that I work with that, as young people, are bursting with ideas and I've had the privilege of watching them grow and develop. See their ideas become reality. See their goals get met. It's wonderful.
My life has been one lived with purpose.
At times that has ground me down, but mostly it has led me on. I get asked new questions, to which I work to find new answers. Gone are the days of the institution, now are the days of community and, let me tell you, the work is both more challenging and more rewarding. My mind gets a workout every day. Every single day.
Not only that, look at where I get to go and who I get to meet. Last year, and this is an abbreviated list, I got to go to the Yukon, to San Diego, to Edmonton, to Boston, to Charlottetown, to Salem, and next year begins in Newcastle in England. It's not so much that I get to travel to these places, because travel with a disability has it's unique challenges, but that I get to go there and meet people and talk to people and I'm given a podium from which I can share ideas and approaches and a way of looking at the world and at disability and at service provision. Cool? or Cooler?
On top of that, Vita and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals let me moderate a webinar capable of reaching across the world, on subjects written in the International Journal of Direct Support Professionals. It's conversational with me interviewing the authors of the articles. It's like getting to go to school and having private discussions with the teacher and the whole class listening behind the door. My mind is always racing when we're done. I've learned so much. Cool? or Cooler?
So, yea, I'm 64 and looking for more.
That makes me, not matter what others say, a very lucky man.