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Saturday, September 13, 2014

What is over the hill?

My dad. Not looking much different from 40.
So today is my birthday. If you are my "friend" on Facebook then you probably already figured that out. Today I'm reminded of a picture that used to hang in our finished basement den in Summit, New Jersey when my folks and I lived there. It was a picture of my dad, in his U.S. Navy athletic shorts, sitting (leaning really) on a balance beam. Underneath he had a caption posted: "Forty isn't over the hill." I'm also reminded of a poem that my dad wrote (to his little brother I think) that used to be posted in my uncle's old bedroom at the grandparent's place. I can only recall the first line, but that has always stuck in my head with its own little melody, like a song. "Forty, that mystical imaginary borderline..." I think the reason that my dad comes to mind when I think of the age of forty is that it was a big deal to him. He had something prove at that age--that he was still in his prime at the age of forty. (My mother, by contrast, has never seemed to truly age or pay much attention to age.)

While I will confess that I already passed that milestone awhile back, this image came to my mind today. I still do not think of either of my parents as being "over the hill." So by extension I can't be either, right? What do we mean when we think of particular ages as being "over the hill?" What is this proverbial hill, anyway? The thought seems to be that life is a hill that we climb and climb, trying to prove something about ourselves. At various ages we ask ourselves, "Am I over the hill?" "Am I going downhill from here?" The idea seems to be that after you go over the hill, life is all downhill from there. In a good way or a bad way I think is up to you, though most folks seem to think it's a bad thing.

So if you have reached the top of that hill and you are looking down at the rest of your life to come, do you see an easier life or a deteriorating life? Are things going to be worse from here due to aging? Or are you about to go on the ultimate downhill roller-coaster ride and have fun? I know which I prefer.

At this stage in my life I have just begun a new adventure. I've started graduate school and am learning so much! If there is anything in the world to which I could be addicted, it would be learning. You can ask my STC colleagues, if there is a new technology out there, I like to go learn about it and then teach it to others. If I learn something new, I want to share it with everyone I know.
What's important when you conquer that hill? Someone to share it with! This is from my husband's recent grad school graduation.

And one thing I know today: I am NOT over the proverbial hill. I have much climbing yet to do. Perhaps life is not just one big hill, but a series of small hills that lead to the ultimate mountain. I've gone over my share of bumps and hills throughout life. Hills can be something to trudge up and dread or something to conquer. I choose to conquer. In fact, we're climbing a hill right now that took us entirely by surprise. But with God's help we'll climb this hill, too, and reach the other side. Then it's roller-coaster time!

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