My birthday comes with the advent of sweater-weather; when the foliage on the hillsides bursts into vibrant colors of golden-yellow, scarlet-red, and fire-orange. Overhead, the geese point their way south for warmer temperatures as the sun disappears earlier into the harvest horizon. I say with reflection and gratitude, "I'm so damn lucky to live through another summer!"
At my age, I don't ignore the changing seasons. I relish one more chance to taste snowflakes on my tongue, witness the tender buds transform into dazzling blossoms, feel the smooth rocks as I wade barefoot in the stream, and hear the rustle of autumn leaves scattered by a cool breeze. One more year, one more journey around the sun. I raise my age-spotted hands and clap in wild abandon at my splendid fortune.
Because I've enjoyed more than six decades of birthdays, I'm entitled to convey some words of wisdom for all the younger people who are eager to be my age. Here's my birthday rendition of The Seven Deadly Sins. The original list of vices appeared in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible and was inspired thousands of years ago, a few decades before I was born.
1. Lust. In your sixties, you no longer crave greener grass, a bigger home, or a sexier lover because you'll have more lawn to maintain, more house to insure and clean, and a handsome hunk might request that you shave your legs. No, you're totally content to have a comfortable chair in a cozy den beside a middle-aged companion who still lights your fire and says you're hot.
2. Gluttony. By now, we know if we eat the entire birthday cake, our butt will grow big enough to block the sun. Moderation is best. Buy freezer bags.
3. Greed. When I had a significant stock portfolio, I monitored it every day to see how much money I was making and panicked when the market fell by more than 100 points. I didn't like the feeling, so I sold my stock and built a cabin in the mountains. I traded Blue Chips for blue skies and parked my assets on the porch.
4. Sloth. With one simple rule, my hard-working ancestors and parents instilled a desire that made me hungry to work: No work, no dinner. I love a lazy afternoon with a good book, but I know and appreciate the fruits of labor.
5. Wrath. Anger causes wrinkles, and I have enough. I prefer to cultivate a growing crop of laugh lines. I only get mad on the golf course, and then I erupt with a foul tirade that would shock the most hardened longshoreman. And, that's only on the first tee-box. My new plan to avoid getting mad is to stay in the bar and let everyone else golf.
6. Envy. Sometimes I see a beautiful woman who is so tall and tan and young and lovely she reminds me of the goddess in the song "Girl from Ipanema." After all these years, I know there's not a chance in hell I'll ever look like that. So, I wear yoga pants, t-shirts, sunglasses, and a hat and feign sophistication. This eliminates all the annoying autograph seekers and pesky paparazzi.
7. Pride. This deadly sin creates politicians, bullies, and the Kardashian family. The moment I think my crap doesn't stink, I get a bout of intestinal flu that proves otherwise. However, I'm covertly proud of my man, my children, and my ability to know the difference between there, their, and they're. When I really want to swagger, I edit articles that incorrectly use its, it's, your, and you're. Knowledge is power.
For this year's birthday, I intend to find ways to exchange the seven deadly sins for seven lively good deeds. I'll trade lust for gratitude, gluttony for self-control, greed for compassion, sloth for efficiency, wrath for joy, envy for love, and pride for humility. I expect occasional lapses into debauchery, but after all these decades, I deserve it. I also plan to laugh until my gut hurts, my eyes water, and my nose runs, as often as possible. Happy Birthday, indeed.