A Birthday Thought Upon Turning 40

By Jim Lutz

"To remain young while growing old is the highest blessing." German Proverb

Preparing for the upcoming gloom and doom of a pivotal birthday in the next few days, it is very easy to let stereotypes dictate emotions. I, however, have chosen this moment to celebrate, rather than dwell on the inevitability of growing older years with each passing day.

I always remember the sign on the side of Sunlight Pool at Coney Island in Cincinnati. It read, "You never quit playing because you get old. You get
old when you quit playing."

Have you ever noticed how amazed people are when they come acrpss an elderly person who is mentally as sharp as a tack? It comes across as the most amazing thing they have ever seen. I understand that we don't always have control of our mind in our later years, but why should it be so surprising when someone has kept his or her senses beyond the age of 70 or 75? You may lose some spring in your step but you don't have to lose your quest for mental stimulation.

The biggest problem is that people forget where their strength and power originates. It is not from the weights we may have lifted or the miles we may have swum. It comes from the inner spirit. Zechariah 4:6: "Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord."

If you look back in time, our most pleasant moments are those when the mind of a child prevailed and the youthful spirit and enthusiasm presided over rational thought. The Lord gave us the yest for life just as he gave us the wisdom to achieve success.

I have been blessed with 40 years on this earth. I, like many others, have been given tremendous challenges and opportunities. I cannot put into words
how the opportunities have created 200 years of enjoyment in only 40 years. Looking at the struggles may be the course that some choose to take, but not
me. Those struggles were simply speed bumps in the road of my life. The opportunities far surpass any and all difficulties. These difficulties, as they were, put color and variety in my life not gloom, heartache and despair. For with each unpleasant experience came a level of joy that was previously unattainable.

Many say that your birthday is the one day a year that you can claim as your own. Instead of me using my day for my own gain, I want to give all of you a free pass to have as much fun and enjoyment as you possibly can have in a 24 hour period. Just as the golfer who shoots a hole-in-one and then is obligated to buy drinks for everyone in the clubhouse, Friday will be my
"Life hole-in-one" and I'm buying happiness for everyone in the world. Best of all, your ticket to happiness can be duplicated as many times as you like for there are no expiration dates.

Have a great life…I know I will

(Jim Lutz is head swim coach at Michigan State Univ.)

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