On Reaching 70

Today, I turn 70 and I’m happy. To be truthful, as much relieved as happy, perhaps more so.
Fifteen years ago I was sure the end was near, I was miserable in many ways, a damaged lower back which surgery didn’t cure, lousy osteoarthritis in the right hip, a mild stroke, and frequent and sustained bouts of depression where I went for days without speaking to anyone. On a few occasions I did think about a self-induced end but fought off the thought each time by telling myself how selfish it would be and how unfair to those close to me.
Then a recovery of sorts, a more positive outlook and disposition, a new calm, a new tolerance of self and of others and the understanding that the heart must rule. Fifteen years on, I’m still here.
I don’t travel these days, only in my mind. I still walk in the Black Forest, look down on the Vale of Kashmir with the white giants of the Himalayas rising behind, see Japan at cherry blossom time and watch the dawn break at Uluru.
With the love and support of family and friends and with kind light, moon and/or candle, behind me I intend to go on for a few years more.

80 thoughts on “On Reaching 70

  1. May I wish you a very happy birthday, John, and take a moment to say how grateful I am for having had the opportunity to get to know you through your writing. I fully empathise with the bouts of depression that you have suffered and, whilst I appreciate that they never truly leave, having a focus (and learning to read the signs) helps. Personally I always try to remember that there is always one more corner to turn, and having those I love close means the world. I genuinely wish you all the very best for many years to come.

  2. Brother John – I’m glad you had a change of heart fifteen years ago, otherwise I would have never known you. Although I’ve never met you, I feel I know you as a brother and you are one of my most valued friends. You have been a true inspiration. Hang around at least another fifteen years.

  3. Hi there John, Happy birthday and congratulations on reaching 70 You have the secret to survive and I for one know all about that. If it’s any consolation I too have had to become strong after fighting .T.B. at the age of 30, have osteoporosis in my spine,recently fell down the stairs but fortunately no bones were broken, have diabetes which also brings many other problems. However, I celebrated my 84th birthday last week. It is as you say John we are thankful to family and friends who are there to help us through these bad times. Keep your positive thinking John and you won’t go wrong. Enjoy life.

    • Rita
      Thank you for this beautiful response and CONGRATULATIONS on reaching 84 – Fantastic!!
      You’ve certainly been through the mill and are a true survivor.
      Again, Thank You

  4. Happiest of birthday wishes to you, John!!! I love this post as it mirrors so many thoughts, so many similarities to my own life.
    I am happy that you are here…and I love to read about all those places you travel…no matter how you get there! 😁
    Much love and beautiful blessings to you πŸ’›

  5. I didn’t realise that you had to overcome so many challenges John.
    Your words are an inspiration to others.
    Well done and welcome to the over 70’s club.

  6. Of course your situation has been harder on you, John; but our current lives have parallels. My wife broke her hip. resulting in the arrival of a terrible pain syndrome, then massive anxiety and depression. For the last five months I have become a 24 hour a day caregiver. It has taken time to adjust, but I feel quite peaceful now. I wish you the same. Larger thoughts arrived viewing the eclipse. Below is what a chance for wider vision produced.
    I hope it also conveys best wishes for continuation of your remarkable life. For what it’s worth I lost absolutely everything including prospects in my mi-fifties. But both life and I readjusted. I started writing exactly at the age you are now. In two months I’ll be 85.
    Your mind and spirits, your gift with words are there for you. Use them to the benefit of all of us.

    On a beach in Oregon
    We awaited the arrival of
    The Great American Eclipse
    After countless predictions
    Of a life-changing experience
    I felt numbed and suspicious
    Life was vivid enough in a
    Goggled family on the beach
    Exuding high spirits
    Even as daylight dimmed
    I doubted anything momentous
    Then I saw and swear
    I heard a cosmic click
    As the moon locked onto the sun
    Eyepiece of a giant telescope
    I could look through it
    Into different, indescribable space
    Peaceful, unitary and definite
    It spoke of possibility and resolution
    To a world muddling in doubt
    I’d seen joining not obscuring
    In a minute a flash
    And I had to look away
    Yet what I saw lingered
    An arc of millions serially
    Experiencing the same moment
    Feeling the same power
    Lives changing in unison
    Forming a chain of hope
    Now the hard part
    No more sit and gape.

    Charles B. Neff, 8/26/17

    • Charlie
      This is an exceptional response and i’m honoured to receive it.
      You and your wife have certainly known pain and misfortune and yet you have pulled through and are pulling through – such courage!
      Conjunction is a fine work, without doubt fine, no argument and i delighted in every phrase and thought..and i love the ending, love it.
      Thank You Charlie for everything and at 85 or indeed at any age you are special

  7. What can I possibly say except that I adore you with all my heart and am grateful for you. You are a warm, comforting light. Though we are far apart, you seem so close. Stay that way.

  8. There are no privileges to be found within the bounds of decades we journey as time is a relentless mistress and we are her indentured slaves. It is only a few fellow travelers that make the trek a voyage to be savored. Thank you for the major contributions you’ve made to my voyage John. They are among the honorable and notable entries in my life’s journals. Ever your friend, Jon Michael.

  9. Happy Birthday John or Penblwydd Hapus. With the sights you have to remember you can go on for years yet and allow others to see those sights through your eyes word by sculpted word.

  10. Happy Belated Birthday John … Glad your 🌝 disposition has surfaced and here is something to say it all πŸŽ‚ sorry you can’t eat it 🎁 or unwrap it … Anyway another milestone passed and on the path of happiness again your a real ⭐️ …Ian 😊

  11. So glad you made it John! Happy Birthday πŸ’› πŸ΅πŸ’›
    Chronic pain without relief is so difficult to deal with. The pain colors how we see the world, gets us down and makes it tough on those around us! I’m so glad you are happy, and the world is worth being in again. xo

  12. Great and comforting news, my dear John! You are blessed in that you can write of and see what most people couldn’t dream of. Love as always.

  13. Happy belated birthday, John, and I am so grateful your mind shifted years ago into a more positive outlook. I’m sorry though that you’ve endured so many challenges, but I have no doubt that you will not lose momentum now. Take care, and continue to bless us with your beautiful writing.

  14. John, happy belated birthday, happy 70th. Wishing you many more happy returns. I’m happy too to read of your peace and happiness, and the love of family and friends. Thank you for sharing your past struggles, your overcoming them with a positive attitude gives me strength.


  15. I shudder to imagine a world without you, dearest friend, poet, beautiful person, John.
    I could never see you giving in or giving up, you are stotally honest with yourself. You are wonderful – always have been and always will be.

  16. I’m going to be outright selfish here, John, and confide that “a few more years” just will not do! I felt saddened as I read your words though enlightened and inspired by the positive turn in your thoughts, your perspective.

    You have a marvelous gift that demands its sharing. For friendship, the art of words and knowing, embrace a story so beautifully told and grace us long in its telling. My best to you as always.

  17. May your coming year surprise you with the happiness of smiles, the feeling of love and so on. I hope you will find plenty of sweet memories to cherish forever. Happy birthday.

  18. This is so beautiful, John, and inspiring too! In so few words you’ve described the essence of life and the true spirit of moving on. Have a great Christmas month ahead… πŸ™‚ (Wishing a happy birthday will be too early for the next year πŸ˜€ )

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