Paul McCartney wrote the song, “When I’m Sixty-Four” at the age of 16 and later recorded it in 1966. I have listened to it most of my life. I remember reciting the lyrics in my youth, thinking of the inconceivably ancient age of 64. I assumed by then I would be in a nursing home or dead. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” Well, I blew past 64 years ago and, strangely, I don’t feel old or anywhere near incapacitated.
Every year I spend several days with some of my childhood friends. Several of us were in first grade together in 1953 and graduated high school together in 1965, one year before McCartney recorded his song. We have the photos to prove it. While we don’t feel old, and still think of ourselves as we once were in our youth, others apparently think we are old. When we went out to a restaurant together for dinner, the owner took pity on us and gave us a free dessert.
But, I realize something when I am with my childhood friends. I realize we are all still on the journey. We started this journey together as children in post-World War II. We were the first baby boomers. We didn’t know what that meant. We just knew there were lots of us. We have journeyed through the ‘60s, Vietnam, flower power, the moon landing, Watergate, floppy disks, the World Wide Web, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Desert Storm, the dot com bust, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Great Recession.
Our individual journeys have taken different turns and twists. A couple entered the military graduating from West Point and the Air Force Academy, one became a physician, two entered business, one became an educator, one became an Episcopal priest, another a Baptist minister. We have different political, economic and religious opinions. But we are still together on the journey.
It reminds me of the words Jesus first spoke to his followers. “Come and follow me.” God always invites us to a journey. His invitation is to all of us and His invitation is life-long. The journey never stops. It has valleys and mountaintops. It leads through sorrow and celebration. It encompasses wonder, worship and war. It includes pain, poverty and prosperity.
Now that I am past 64, the age our generation has sung about since we were young, I am grateful for the journey. I am grateful for the companions God has given me to travel with. And I am grateful for Jesus who invited me to follow Him when I was young and still leads me when I am old.
“You have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb. Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:3-4).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.