Life on the Back Side of the Power Curve

I have a clear recollection that when I was a young man, I’m talking about when I was in my twenties, the year 2012 held a very special significance for me.

No, it wasn’t due to the Mayan calendar grinding to its endpoint and purportedly bringing doom and gloom upon us.  When I was in my twenties, only a few cultural anthropologists were even aware that the Mayans had a calendar.
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No, the significance that 2012 held for me was due to that year being a benchmark of sorts for me.  It was the year in which I would become sixty years old.

Now as anyone who either is, or has been, twenty will tell you; sixty is very much older by comparison.  Just do the math.  At the age of twenty, the average Joe has only lived a third, or perhaps just a quarter of their lives.  They’re just getting warmed up, so to speak.  They likely feel like they haven’t even hit their stride yet.
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By way of comparison, let the age of forty catch up with you and the statistics suddenly seem to be working against you.

Without any warning at all, you find that for all intents and purposes, you’re about halfway through the Big Show.  Intermission has already come and gone, so to speak.

This state of mind is what a good friend of mine always referred to as being on the “back side of the power curve.

As I contemplated the philosophical construct of life’s “power curve”, I came to understand that it is the chronological equivalent of the geographical continental divide.  Depending on which direction you’re heading, it’s all up hill for a while until you, perhaps without realizing it, crest the top and find that everything is going downhill!

I also recognized that there are multiple power curves which any of us can suddenly find ourselves on the “backside of.”

For example, athletes can wake up one morning and cruelly find themselves on the backside of their sporting-life power curves while still only in their mid-twenties.   By the same token, a fifty year old trundling along on a generic corporate career path can unexpectedly find himself being displaced by some young, fire-in-the-belly type just out of college.
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So all those years ago, my twenty year old self peered into the dim, somewhat out of focus future and wondered what it was going to be like to wake up in 2012; to suddenly find himself sixty years old and having lived about eighty percent of his life.

Fast forwarding to the present, if my sixty year old self could have had the opportunity to speak with my twenty year old self, I would have told him, “Get over it.  Life is great!

What my younger self had failed to grasp was that in those intervening years, our  perception, understanding, and acceptance of life and all that it entails would change significantly.   I would explain to my twenty year old self that during our years between the ages of twenty and sixty, we were going to continue to grow and mature in terms of our awareness, understanding, and acceptance of all things related to life and mortality.

In a week or so, I’m going to turn sixty-one.  The reality of having now lived a significant percentage of my life doesn’t even register on my radar anymore.

To a large extent this is due to my faith, but also because life itself has done a really good job of preparing me to be able to roll with the punches that we all encounter here on the backside of the power curve.

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