A party for the generations
June 12, 2019
This being the time where many students are graduating from high school and college, I guess I have some words of advice for a person who has been around for a bit.
Recently I was invited to a cocktail party by a friend I have known for over five years.
Dan worked in my kitchen in a restaurant I founded in Laramie a few years back while he was working on his accounting degree. He loves the cocktail culture as much as I do and it is fitting he now works for the state liquor commission.
Also invited to this little drinking bash was another college kid (then) who cooked in my kitchen with Dan. John was actually in charge of the kitchen for a period of time. My favorite memory of John was when we cooked Beef Wellington for a huge dinner sponsored by Arch Coal. To this day, I don’t know how we pulled it off considering the size of our oven and all the guests we served. John is now working for a financial firm in Colorado.
There were guests at the party I knew from when they used to visit my place while they were in school.
Luke is a petroleum engineer, his girlfriend Patty a nurse, and Carson is an engineer for Siemens—probably one of the largest engineering firms in the world.
All are around 25, give or take a year.
It wasn’t really a large party and there was no question, if you carded anyone in the room, I was the only person breaking 30. Nothing I was self conscious about, any more than if I was in a room where people were 30 years older. Still, you notice it.
Anyway, Dan had a strong collection of liquor and mixers and nobody was driving home. Given that he had something like 60 different brands to work with, I was in my element getting to make drinks for the party goers. I will admit Luke had me sipping on Angel’s Envy (a very nice bourbon) most of the evening.
At one point in the night, Carson pulled me aside and told me he had read some of my stories from the Sun. He said some very complimentary things about what I had written, but more impactful, was when he said how much he admired how I had lived my life, going from several types of careers over the years.
“It’s not like I had any road map,” I said laughing.
Not too long after talking to Carson, basically the same thing was said to me by other kids that I mentioned above at different moments of the party. It was almost like they had got together and made a plan to say how much they liked how I had lived my life.
I won’t deny, most people in their mid-to-late 20s are kids to me. I don’t mean because they act immature, quite the contrary, but at that age, there really is so much living left to do. At least, I hope so.
I was really touched by these friends I made a half a decade ago, while they were in college, who thought I was a role model of some sort to experience life.
First, let me say I am not the role model type. I am just not scared to reinvent myself if the road I am going down demands that of me.
As I inferred, I have lived my life and career by constantly taking chances with more instances than I care to recount where I made a bad decision.
However, I like to believe the good ones outweigh the bad.
I like to think I am pretty much like everyone else. I make goals, achieve some, and, as I write this, I have plenty still to accomplish.
As the longest lived person at this gathering, the words of commendation certainly felt good, but I had to set the record straight.
I felt I had to give these youngsters some advice.
The words I first heard from my mother, “Life is not a dress rehearsal and we don’t get do it over again,” have stuck with me ever since I first heard them in my early teens.
Those words are even more important as time goes zipping by and I get more years under my belt.
So I repeated the phrase to all that had complimented me in our individual discussions.
I told them I have watched friends and family depart from this world; some prepared, some not so much.
I had to point out to these currently-in-shape kids that not taking care of your body plays havoc with the aging process.
I am not throwing any stones about not being fit, since I am still many pounds away from my desired and healthy weight, but I have an exercise regimen I am fairly relentless about doing daily. I have seen what happens as people age and they don’t take care of themselves.
As often as not, it isn’t pretty.
It just makes sense to do what you can to keep the deterioration of getting old at bay.
Then there is the mind.
If having your body start going bad on you physically as you age isn’t terrible enough, the sharpness and clarity of our mental capacities we take for granted in our youth can start leaving a person in a matter of a couple years as we get older.
It is heartbreaking.
I have watched parents of friends go into dementia. It is a terrible thing to behold. One minute the person is there, the next minute, they are not. In so many cases, they are a shell of who they once were.
Telling these friends that come from a much younger generation than myself, I think the key to living a life that you can be proud of (most of the time), is be the best you can under the circumstances. You just have to face the turn of events with the attitude it will all work out.
When you are the age these friends are with their futures having infinite possibilities, it is easy to think you are going to make your mark in the world.
I like to think all of my friends at this party will do exactly that in some way. They really make me believe in the next generation.
It is a historical fact that nobody has beaten death and we all age.
Some better than others.
So my advice to my friends that night and to those that have graduated; do your best to be one of those that age better.
Eat right, exercise, try to be happy as much as you can and don’t be scared to take risk.
After all, life isn’t a dress rehearsal.