• Karen Heckman Stork

Oh Oh - Another Birthday


Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born. - Albert Einstein


March is always one of my favorite months — it’s the month of my birth and spring arrives — only a few days apart. I am a Pisces, the old soul of the Zodiac. Pisces tend to be creative, sensitive, intuitive and dreamers, so last year, to celebrate having lived for a three quarters of a century, I decided to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams — to live near the ocean, the cradle of life.


And now I’m going to celebrate another year of life in this new environment. As one ages, it seems someone always wants to know what it feels like to have lived for ___ years (fill in the blank). When I am asked that question, I always reply “It’s better than the alternative.” And then I think how lucky I am to have reached this age, and I remember some of those folks who experienced the alternative during the past year.

Aging is a process we all grow through if we are lucky. As I grow older, I try to read more about that process, hopefully gaining some insight and wisdom to help me along the way. One of my all-time favorite books in this category is called Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. I highly recommend this book for everyone because we are all going through the process of growing older.


Following is one of my favorite passages from the book.


For me, one of the greatest glories of growing older is the willingness to ask why and, getting no good answer, deciding to follow my own inclinations and desires. Asking why is the way to wisdom.


Why are we supposed to want possessions we don’t need and work that seems beside the point and tight shoes and a fake tan?


Why are we supposed to think new is better than old, youth and vigor better than long life and experience?


Why are we supposed to turn our backs on those who have preceded us and to snipe at those who come after?


It’s a sure bet that when we were small children we asked “why?” constantly. Why is the sky blue? Why does the stove burn? Why can’t we eat grass? Then, of course, it was a constant voyage of discovery, parsing the known universe by inches. Asking the question now is more a matter of testing the limits of what sometimes seems a narrow world, a world of unrealistic expectations, of conventional wisdom.

One of the useful things about age is realizing that conventional wisdom is often simply inertia with a candy coating of conformity.


Buy Anna’s book. It contains many valuable lessons as well as heartfelt stories. And while you’re at it, buy my memoir Screw the Eggshells - Finding My Self After Verbal and Emotional Abuse to hear more of my life story and some obstacles along my own personal journey of aging. Both available at Amazon, of course. (Or a signed copy is available direct from this author.)


And may I wish for you on this my birthday week, another year of growth and experiences, joy and amazement, health and good fortune, questions and answers. May we all continue along our own aging path until we are each called “home” to our eternal rest through the grace of God. My own personal wishes for a peaceful rest to Amelia, Ron, Ron, and all others in my family who have gone before me and helped form the “me” I am today.


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© 2017 Karen Heckman Stork. All Rights Reserved.

Karen Stork: Nebraska Writer
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