Yesterday was my 65th birthday.
A still taken from my short video at the half way mark of my birthday 10.
Leading up to it was quite a challenge. As the days got closer, I apparently got quieter. My wife asked me what was going on. I came clean, and told her that I was feeling incredibly guilty reaching the biggest milestone in my life, when individuals…way better men than me, were cut off in their prime, and didn’t get anywhere close to becoming 40, let alone 65.
I would think through the deaths of every mate, all great young fellas who I wish were still here today. I’d go over the awesome time that we all had as young soldiers, and the great will to move forward as one. I kept thinking that only the good die young, as I’m not aware of any arseholes having gone before me…a one liner that I would share in my mind more and more.
So, I told my wife that I didn’t want any pressies, I don’t want to have dinner in a fancy restaurant, I don’t even want birthday wishes…I simply want to go on a 10 mile tab (in this case hike) with a 30lb bergen pack, and run/walk the route, which is a scenic undulating local 5 mile run that I do often. In this case, I’d obviously be covering the route twice. My idea being, I’ve invited along those very same mates that are no longer with us…living out the old days of training hard, and singing out the banter along the way.
Well, the morning of my 65th birthday came, it was the coldest day for this time of year in the region since 1911. Ron hill bottoms, running shoes, old 1940s SAS smock with rugby shirt underneath it, baseball cap, 30lb bergen on…and away. It certainly took a couple of miles to warm up, I found myself jogging away to a nice rhythm, even up the inclines. I imagined myself surrounded by the ghosts of my mates, feeling their energy, their old enthusiasm, their black humour…taking all the positives to not only get through the tab, but to also get through my special day.
At the half way point or there abouts, I decided to make a quick short video to post on social media and explain my thoughts to my mostly ex military friends.
I was happy now and feeling fantastic…the release of particular chemicals to the brain and body had set old Bob back into his 30s…flying along, just like the old days. Getting strange looks from passers by on their way to catching the train into Manhattan for their work. All mostly stone faced like drones…briskly marching on a bearing from home to the station, most with their heads buried into their iphones, glancing up for barely a second. That alone was pushing me on, it was also showing me what an awesome life we’ve all lived in the military, and here I am with my mates, running/walking in the opposite direction to the masses, living out our dreams and our own lives, and as one gang all on the same page.
I came back home, stretched down in the garden for a few minutes, then went indoors…hugged my wife…and told her “it’s done.”
After showering and changing, I was back to myself…all the better for the 10 miler…all the better for sharing it with my old mates…and all the better for getting through that special milestone of 65. Now on with my life, and for the rest of my life.
If I get to be 100, I’ll have to go through the same process again, as I’m sure the guilt will set in as I reach another notable milestone. However, as none of us know exactly when we’re about to go…I’ll leave it till then.
As much as this may seem an extremely strange way to celebrate a 65th birthday for most people, it turned out to be the perfect way, the perfect present, and the perfect release from guilt for me.
Thanks lads for turning up and coming on my birthday 10…every step of the way.
To all those no longer with us. x