I still can’t believe it. How scary. But also how cool. I never thought I would live long enough to be celebrating my 70th birthday. And now that it’s almost here, I have to admit it is a bit frightening and exciting at the same time.
For me, there is one thing I did know for sure. I felt that a substantial period of time for personal reflection was in order as I approach this Dec. 11 birthday milestone. I thought that giving myself 100 days of pre-birthday daily reflections on my life, my family, my friends and my endeavors as a peace activist would be productive and help me become a kinder, more compassionate, more thoughtful and, in essence, a better person.
I thought the 100 days would also be an extra reminder to reflect on how important it is to have a positive attitude and be grateful for the many wonderful people and opportunities in my life.
Why is my approaching birthday a somewhat frightening time? We all are getting older, but even when I was celebrating my 50th, 60th and 65th birthdays, I didn’t fully realize that I was in that mix. I still don’t feel like I’m 70. I still feel young at heart. But might that just be an ongoing case of perpetual immaturity? Who knows? All I know is I feel a sadness that world leaders are still not addressing the issues of peace holistically and extensively enough. I can’t help but wonder how long it will take for us, as a human species, to get our act together? The older I get the sadder it feels to know that war and nuclear weapons haven’t been abolished years ago.
There is also the fear and reality of losing family, loved ones and dear friends as well as older activists that I have come to respect and admire over the years. That loss keeps happening on all those levels with greater frequency the past few years. And, of course, fears about my own health and my fervent desire to not be a burden are ongoing worries for me.
So, what’s new? Everyone has these fears. Stop worrying, Jerry. Quit complaining, even to yourself. Easier said than done for someone who has been a worrier since childhood.
Part of my 100 days of reflection has been fasting. No, not a political fast or protest, just a way to sacrifice something that I can often do too much of. Eating. So, since the day after Labor Day I’ve been consuming only liquids. I’ve been adding vitamins, minerals and other supplements into my drinks, so in essence it’s really not even a fast. But it seems to strengthen my resolve and help me focus more on my reflective task at hand.
Of course things get less scary every time I have nice conversations with optimistic seniors who now are in their late 70s, 80s or older. That really gives me hope and inspiration. The seniors I meet have so much spunk and wisdom.
And speaking with our youth and concerned students also helps make the process of getting older a lot less frightening. Students visit my sticker table on the Third Street Promenade all the time. We have fantastic conversations about the state of the world. They are astute, knowledgeable and hopeful. Most seem not to be apathetic at all. How true it is that we must save the world for future generations.
But the students I meet are looking for opportunities to help save the world for themselves. They want to participate and learn how their voices can be heard, even though they are not old enough to vote. The older I get, the smarter and more sensible the younger generation seems. Isn’t it time to consider lowering the voting age once again?
I’ve also recently joined the YMCA to get a bit more exercise than simply walking from one meeting to the next. I now “workout” three times a week. There are so many optimistic and supportive people working at and attending the Y, and so many people, including many seniors, getting active and healthier. I’m glad I joined and sincerely recommend it to others. The exercise and support I get there helps me lower my worrying and fear threshold immensely.
Above all, I feel very grateful that I have been lucky enough to be a peace activist for well over three decades. There are always ongoing frustrations and fears, but there are also many rewards.
You are all invited to join me and my beautiful-in-every-way wife Marissa as we host with Rusty’s Surf Ranch my “Public 70th Birthday Celebration” the evening of Dec. 11 on the Santa Monica Pier. It’s a fundraising and fun-raising benefit to help restore Paul Conrad’s landmarked peace sculpture in the Civic Center, and a way to meet some of the SaveChainReaction.com dedicated team members and supporters. It should be fun for everyone attending. And it should be a scary-diminishing and cool-enhancing happy birthday time for me.
The more I think about it, turning 70 is cooler than scary. I’m already starting to think of ideas for another public birthday celebration for a good cause when I turn 75.
Jerry PeaceActivist Rubin can be found on the Third Street Promenade selling bumper stickers with politically charged slogans or at a number of community meetings.