A View From Over the Hill & Some Wisdom Over the Years

by Bill Sniffin

A human lifetime is like an Arc to me.  Sort of a big rainbow that we start as youngsters and in the end, you end up like me – looking back in wonder at all the amazing things that happened.

And the reality is that my last birthday three weeks ago revealed the number “75” on my birthday cake. Whew. That sounds awful old to me.

And yet, I feel young. I think young.  

How does this work?  How can you physically be 75 but still think you are 50? 

Not all my 75-year old friends feel as good as I feel but lots of them do. And we all ponder how it is that in our heads, we still wake up each morning with the same enthusiasm and wonder that we always did.

Keep in mind, that I am not talking about running marathons like a few 75-year old’s do. Or regularly play racquetball like my friend Dean McKee, who is a year younger than me.  Or water ski like Gary Weger, who also is in his 70s.  Or like my 86-year old friend Del McOmie who still excels at bowling. 

My idea of exercise is  to get 10,000 steps of walking a day about five days a week and play cornhole and even an occasional game of golf. 

Having been conceived in June of 1945, it is easy to assume I am the oldest baby boomer alive.  And being the first boomer brings with it some responsibility,.

We had dinner recently with Stu and Debbie (Disney) Pummel, Casper, both of whom were born in 1964. That makes them the youngest baby boomers. 

There were a total of 85 million baby boomers who came after me. The scary fact is that 22 million of them have already died. Obviously, they did not feel as good as was mentioned earlier in this column. 

This column is not about baby boomers, it is a column about life. The Arc of life. 

When talking with members of the senior class of Wyoming Catholic College recently, we discussed how they are literally at the beginning of their Arc of Life, while I was explaining how it feels to be at the (gulp) end of my Arc.  Actually, I am hoping for at least 20 more years. 

They were anxious to hear about any special secrets of life that they could use going forward.

The biggest decision you will ever make is choosing your spouse.  And we are asked to make that decision often at a very young age. Nancy and I were 19 and 20 when we were married 55 years ago. I was blessed to get the right partner. 

They needed to hear that despite all their good intentions, there are going to be some terrible bumps in the road.  If they are good-hearted, honest, and hard-working, I told them, they needed to anticipate that most of these failures will not be their fault. They will need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on.  A loving and supportive spouse sure does help get you through times like that. 

In a column published last year, I pointed out the 20 things that I learned in 50 years of business.  Many of these things are also good life lessons. 

One of these lessons is that it is important during your life to cultivate mentors.  Locate folks who are older and more experienced than you.  These folks can be guideposts to you as you work your way through what often can be a difficult life. 

Back to my Arc of Life: At my age, I am working a full-time job as publisher of the Cowboy State Daily, a daily digital news service for Wyoming. In that job I have to keep up with youngsters like Jimmy Orr, Jim Angel, Wendy Corr, Ellen Fike, Jen Kocher, and even Dave Simpson. 

With folks like these keeping an eye on you, you better not trip too often. 

One of most amazing things about being this old is that we have children who are middle age or older. Our three daughters are in their 50s!  One is a grandma, which means we are great grandparents. Did I say I was old?  Yikes. 

It is important to apologize for this column.  It is a total mish-mash of feelings, observations, and speculations.  Yet it feels good to be sitting on some sort of a mountaintop and look down at all that has happened over three-quarters of a century.  Have I gained wisdom?  Probably yes. But maybe the most important thing is that I am still learning.  Hang on, folks the best is yet to come.



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