"On Turning Eighty."

October 30, 2022

"On Turning Eighty."

May 29, 2023

Tomorrow’s my birthday (62) so a good time to ponder how wise humans before me have contemplated adding a year to their age. Prolific writer Henry Miller penned a book by the name of today’s post and only printed 200 copies, all numbered and signed by the author. The last time I checked on Amazon, this limited edition was priced at $1,500 per copy.

The wisdom in this book deserves to have a wider audience because Miller’s perspective on aging is refreshing:


“At eighty I believe I am a far more cheerful person than I was at twenty or thirty. I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again. Youth may be glorious, but it is also painful to endure…
I was cursed or blessed with a prolonged adolescence; I arrived at some seeming maturity when I was past thirty. It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it. (Picasso once said: “One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it’s too late.”) By this time I had lost many illusions, but fortunately not my enthusiasm, nor the joy of living, nor my unquenchable curiosity.”

Beyond curiosity, he appreciates his sense of light-hearted wonder:


“With this attribute goes another which I prize above everything else, and that is the sense of wonder. No matter how restricted my world may become I cannot imagine it leaving me void of wonder. In a sense I suppose it might be called my religion. I do not ask how it came about, this creation in which we swim, but only to enjoy and appreciate it.”

“Perhaps the most comforting thing about growing old gracefully is the increasing ability not to take things too seriously. One of the big differences between a genuine sage and a preacher is gaiety. When the sage laughs it is a belly laugh; when the preacher laughs, which is all too seldom, it is on the wrong side of the face.”

I can’t weigh in on what it’s like to turn 80, but I can offer a sentence or two to address the signature birthday benchmarks that have already defined my midlife marathon:

On Turning 40

“If you can navigate the dreaded triple B’s of your 40’s (declining beauty/brawn, insane busy-ness, and boredom with your habitual life), you might just avert your midlife crisis.”

On Turning 50,

“As outlined in my recent blog post ‘Life Begins at 50,’ this is when ‘second nurture’ kicks in as you realize you have a ‘second adulthood’ ahead of you in which you get to choose your teachers, purpose, community, and path. This is the decade when midlife freedom starts to emerge.”


On Turning 60.

“Many cultures honor your 60th birthday. The Japanese call it “The Kanreki” (a rebirth), the Hindus call it “Shashti Abda Poorti,” and the Koreans celebrate a 60th "Hwan-gap." Of course, the number 60 shows up in the Bible, Koran, and the kashrut of Judaism, so forget about that cheesy Hallmark card your friends will give you. Remember, you're turning 20 for the third time, and you're much wiser now!"

PS- Be sure to join me for a very special Free Live Fireside Chat with my friend Soren Gordhamer, founder of the Wisdom 2.0 community entitled “The Emergence of a Wise Leader in a World on Fire,” this Wednesday, November 2nd 3 - 4pm PT. Click HERE to register. Soren and I are also teaching a Mastery Week in Baja starting January 30.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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