What I’ve learned at 80

With more age comes more wisdom…sort of

Eventually, you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and a lot of the roads were not paved.

Ah! Being young is beautiful but being old is comfortable.

Devonian Botanical Gardens, Edmonton, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In a few days, I will turn fourscore years or in modern parlance: I’ll be 80 years old. Man, that age sounds rickety to me.

After poking around online last week, I discovered a site featuring a “life expectancy calculator” that estimates how much longer I’ll still be drinking coffee every morning. One of the questions asked of me was inadequate and I fudged on another, but according to this life expectancy site, I will likely be sipping my cup of Joe for another 19 years. Knock off three years for my tomfoolery on the site and I still have a way to go.

Fort Assiniboine, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good news? Bad news! I suppose that will depend on the state of my health.

Squeeze as much as possible from the time given to you on this earth.

All I can say for certain is that turning 80 seems impossible to me, a huge chunk of days, weeks, and months. And what a trip it’s been.

I was born during World War II. Since then, a dozen or more wars have been fought, and America won the Cold War, put men on the moon, gave untold billions of dollars in aid to the rest of the world, and created an economy never before seen in world history.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During that time, our world has undergone immense changes. I rode a horse to and from a one-room schoolhouse. The horse was an old (I mean “old”) gray mare, she was swaybacked and all. Reading, good penmanship, and arithmetic were stressed more than the other subjects. These subjects were known as the “Three R’s”—Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic. And, many prairie farmers still used horses and thrashing machines to take off the crop. Polio ravaged the world before Jonas Salk found a vaccine to prevent it.

Those days are long gone, but I remember so much of what happened along the way since then, bits and pieces, some vivid reminiscences, some dim with the shadows of time. So many memories, so many faces, and names, and so much joy and sorrow!

Okanagan Wine Country, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Young people—and by young people, I mean anyone half my age or less—odds are the minutes, hours, days, and years of your life will fly by as well. At some point in the future, you’ll be as I am today, looking back into the recesses of time and wondering how everything went by so quickly.

In the words of Jordon Peterson in 12 Rules for Life, “Everyone needs a concrete, specific goal—an ambition, and a purpose—to limit chaos and make intelligible sense of his or her life.”

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s beauty in a brand new day. The turn from dawn into morning gives us the chance to start anew, begin fresh. Nina Simone may have put it best when she sang in Feeling Good: It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me!

What, then, are my favorite reasons for waking up in the morning?

To enjoy another sunrise!

Because I am alive and there is something new to be explored, learned, observed in the day to start.

Highlands Hammock State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carpe diem: Seize the day! Appreciate the value of every moment in life. Every day is a gift.

Because I still can and I know that someday in the not too distant future, I won’t be able to anymore. Got to live the life I have while I have it.

And I believe it behooves us old fogeys to make as many decisions as possible, no matter how tiny, to keep our brains in gear.

Having reached four score years, I look back with enormous gratitude at some of the blessings bestowed on me by life.

Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What I’ve Learned At 80

I’d rather be 75.

I still miss my old job like I miss the flu.

At 80, routine is king.

There’s a big difference between prostate and prostrate.

Bend over slowly or you might not get up.

Lake Wawasee at Syracuse, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stay off ladders.

For a price, there’s always someone who will do your household chores.

If you always look up at the stars you may miss the dog poop at your feet.

Two beers is a party.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Aging works for wine and cheese but not necessarily for people.

You no longer have to ask for the senior’s discount.

Using the TV remote is the only workout you need.

Wrinkles are just wisdom creases.

Duct tape can fix most problems. Most, but not all!

After 80, no one will ask you to help them move.

Jungle Gardens on Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By the time you’re 80, doctors will have probed every orifice in your body no matter how small or remote.

Don’t worry about how you’ll fill up the days when you’re retired. At least half of your time will be spent on medical tests, appointments, and procedures.

You can now probably open your own pharmacy.

You can live on less than you thought.

Consider buying Velcro sneakers.

Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar but who the hell wants to catch flies?

Grass seed seldom grows.

No matter what anyone says, you don’t really need new slippers.

Avoid the things you cannot change, defer those you can, and don’t be afraid to say no.

Cradle Of Forestry in America, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Age is just a number but it can be a pretty big number.

Getting old is not for sissies.

Life goes by fast.

A piece of advice: Don’t let the sweep of your schedule hide the beauty that lies all around you.

The second piece of advice from this old guy: Live one day at a time.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jordon B. Peterson asks in 12 Rules for Life, An Antidote To Chaos, “What shall I do with the fact of aging? Replace the potential of my youth with the accomplishment of my maturity.”

Worth Pondering…

Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.

—Betty White

The Seasons of My Life

Every new season of life is an opportunity to learn and grow

When I was born in 1941, life expectancy was 63 years for men and 66 for women.

Medical advances and healthier lifestyles have paved the way for greater longevity.

Enjoying our new motor coach at Vista del Sol RV Resort at Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With my 79th birthday approaching in August, how much longer will I live?

I don’t spend much time thinking about it.

Author Henry Miller wrote that life itself should be the art and that—in the spirit of Shakespeare—we should regard ourselves as players on a stage.

Enjoying beauty and photographing it at the Amador Flower Farm in California Gold County. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years have gone. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of my hopes and aspirations and dreams.

Surrounded by nature at Corkscrew Sanctuary in Southern Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I have cried over the death of our son.

I have toured London and the Scottish Highlands, Paris and the French Rivera, Rome and Venice, Lisbon and the Algarve, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Maui and Hawaii, St. Lucia and Barbados, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and Bangkok and Singapore.

Enjoying autumn along the Cherohala Skyway in North Carolina and Tennessee. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a long list of goals still on my bucket list.

But I am no longer driven.

I realize life is sweet and I am lucky to be here.

Touring the Mighty 5 National Parks of Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, here it is—the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise. How did I get here so fast? Where did all the years go? I remember seeing older folks through the years and thinking that those older people were light years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

Tip-toeing among the tulips in Washington’s Skagit Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, here it is—my friends are retired and moving slower—I see an older person now. Some are in better and some in worse shape than me—but, I see a great change. They’re not like the friends that I remember who were young and vibrant; but, like me, their age has started to show. We are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become. Each day now, I find that just completing the daily crossword puzzle is a real target for the day!

Photographing the wildlife along the Creole Nature Trail in southwestern Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, here it is—I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and lack of energy to do things that I wish to do. The winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last; but this I know, a new adventure has begun.

Enjoying the beauty and serenity of Jasper National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life has regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done and things I should have done; but, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

Touring Kentucky Bourbon County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re not yet in the winter of your life, let me tell you straight—it will be here faster than you think. Whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, do it NOW! Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by—and it goes by too quickly.

Savoring tasty Texas BBQ © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do what you can TODAY, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life.

Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

Henry Miller said we either devour life or we are devoured by it. That worked for me when I was younger. But, as I say, I am quieter now.

Enjoying the beautiful Okanagan Valley Wine Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I enjoy the camaraderie of good friends and neighbors. I enjoy good food and quality wines, and hiking and photography.

Another decade on the planet? I plan to read books I have put aside and continue exploring the US Sunbelt in the comfortable luxury of our motor coach.

Touring Historic Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How long can I lead this lifestyle? Where was I going?

Life is good. If I have worries, they are of my own making. If I can, I will try to help others.

Touring the Kennedy Space Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I will never pass this way again, but it would be nice to be remembered for some small deed in the heart of another.

Awe-struck at the Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life is too short to let even one day be frenzied or frazzled or frittered away. Life is too short not to take time to do the things that will hold the most meaning for you. So let yourself float like a leaf on a stream, relax with your memories, and let yourself dream.

Camping on the banks of the mighty Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life is too short and flies by if you let it, so choose what you want every day—and go and get it.

Springtime in the desert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The future is uncertain. A wise sage once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. 




The end of a beautiful day in the Sonoran Desert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Enjoy life NOW. It has an expiry date!