Life

A Quadragenarian’s View of Cool

123RF

My friend Rick, of Over Coffee, recently linked to a post over at MegFowler.com, which featured 36 things Meg thinks are cool at age 36.

I thought it was a cool idea, though, since my last birthday l kicked off the start of my fifth decade, I’m unfortunately required to come up with an additional four items for my list.

So here are 40 things I think are pretty cool while I’m 40 years old:

40. Computers — Specifically, of course, of the Mac variety. Nowadays, it’s hard for someone of my age to imagine how we got by without email and being able to do anything with a keyboard hooked up to a high-tech little plastic box. Undoubtedly, we’d be better off in some instances without them, but the advances they’ve brought overall is worth a little pain once in a while.

39. Airplanes — So you strap yourself down inside this metal cylinder and you find yourself tens of thousands of feet in the air traveling to meet up with someone special or to see a place you’ve never seen. I’m still afraid of flying, but the chance to see familiar faces makes flight worthwhile.

38. Dreams — Sometimes we all need an escape, even a temporary one. Taking a Walter Mitty moment can give us that, but finding a real dream that seems just possible enough that it could one day be reality can truly change your life, if you’re willing to do the legwork.

37. Gifts — Not so much presents, but those special abilities each of us have. The Christian viewpoint talks about its members making up the body of Christ. There was never an expectation that everyone could do the same thing well; each of us have our own unique abilities and talents that can be used to make the world a better place. Finding our own takes time, but if you’re willing to look, and willing to then put yours to use, it can improve your outlook about your own future.

36. Cars — No specific car in particular, though there are definitely some models that are cooler than others, but what I had in mind here is the notion of being able to put yourself into a shiny four-wheeled box and go distances that you’d never be able (or willing) to travel by foot. As much as we hate driving with other people in our way, cars make our lives much easier.

35. Language — An amazing system of communication allowing us to express ourselves. Used correctly, or at times, even incorrectly, it says so much to those around us, even when there’s a language barrier in the way.

34. Air Conditioning — Earlier this month, there was a day here in Charleston where the heat index, the measure of what the temperature feels like when the real temperature is combined with the influence of humidity, hit 117°. Without the AC, I think I’d have had to go on a major rampage. It wouldn’t have been pretty.

33. Logic — My mom taught me from an early age to appreciate the power of reason when making an argument. It’s a critical part of communication, being able to make a point and support it. Unfortunately, for some people, it’s the beginning and the end of the conversation.

32. Nature — This past Sunday, we watched a video by Louie Giglio about finding God in nature. This particular video focused on astronomy and the enormity of the universe, and featured an amazing photo taken by the Hubble Telescope, of the black hole core of the Whirlpool Galaxy. It sits 31 million light years away, and the photo NASA received shows a cross shape in the center of the core. Spending time in nature is a great place to spend time with God when you feel like you’re out of contact. That in itself is a gift.

31. Kindness — People who reach out and help other people, not because they expect something in return, but just because they know it’s the right thing to do. There are a lot more of them than it seems, but there still aren’t enough.

30. History — I’m a history buff to a degree, and I think there’s definitely something in the notion of being doomed to repeat history if you’re not paying attention to past mistakes.

29. First Responders — Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, they’re the ones who are first to respond to help us when we’re in need. It’s a thankless job all too often, but we’d be living in total chaos without them.

28. Military — Like first responders, the members of our military work thankless jobs to protect our freedom. It takes a special breed to be willing to put their lives on the line to protect the freedom of people they’ll never meet.

27. Dolphins — Maybe it’s because Flipper was one of the shows I grew up watching, but I’ve always thought dolphins were really cool. A friend of mine recently posted a photo on Facebook of himself in the water with a dolphin that appeared ready to bestow a kiss. I’d love to have an in-person encounter, though I could do without the smooch.

26. Books — I don’t read nearly as often as I should or even would like to, but a good book can provide the same kind of escape that writing does.

25. Senses — It’s hard for me to narrow down one single sense as being better than the other, because each one gives us so much.

24. Thunderstorms — There’s something eerily relaxing about being able to sit back and watch a thunderstorm and listen to the pounding rain. As long as you’re not in it, at least.

23. Writing — I don’t do nearly as much fiction writing as I used to, and one day I’ll return to it. But even writing something as relatively inane as this brings a certain satisfaction, particularly when readers like you then comment on it. (Was that a hint?)

22. America — This is a country full of problems, as it always has been. But problems aside, it’s still, without a doubt, the best one in the world. And I’m glad to be a part of it.

21. Facebook — It’s cool to be able to keep track of friends you haven’t been able to talk to in years and those who live further away than you’d like!

20. Job — It’s easy to take your job for granted. Then you hit economic conditions like this and it becomes a little less easier. It’s nice having a place that’ll pay you to do what you have some degree of talent to do.

19. Meat — No offense to you vegetarians out there, but I just couldn’t do it. I like a good steak, or chicken, or a good bit of seafood.  I like pork, too, but I rarely eat any.  An animal lover, some would say, shouldn’t want to eat meat.  In this instance, I’ll just have to abandon logic; would someone pass the steak sauce, please?

18. Volunteering — It’s amazing what the volunteer spirit can accomplish in a community when people come together for a common cause and bring a level of passion to helping someone else.

17. Education — All of us take this — and those who actually provide the education — for granted. We’d be in bad shape without it. There are plenty of examples out there to illustrate this point.

16. Health — I’m lucky in that I seem to have more of a genetic influence from my mom’s side of the family. They live a long time on her side. And they get more and more stubborn by the year. There. You’ve been warned.

15. Music — In the theme to The Price is Right, at least, in the Barker version, there’s a point at which there’s a single note played by the trumpet. How did the composer decide that it needed that instrument and that note at that moment? I like music of many varieties, not just game show themes, and I wish I had the telent to either compose or play. Short of that, I’m content to listen to other people’s work.

14. Science — Religious people seem to have a natural aversion to science. The two were never meant to be enemies. While non-believers are quick to point out that science has been unable to prove that God exists, believers point out that science cannot prove He doesn’t. But it can provide us with more reasons to be in awe of that which was created to begin with.

13. Beaches — I cannot imagine living on the beach. In all honesty, if I were given the chance, I’d probably turn it down. My idea of enjoying a beach isn’t frolicking around in a swimsuit playing volleyball, but walking around in khakis in solitude just listening to the roar of the waves hitting the shore. That’s one of the best places on earth to do some serious thinking, and I think that’s the real reason God made beaches.

12. Milk — There are times when I have this weird craving for a tall glass of milk. Nowadays I drink the lower-fat variety, just not that awful skim stuff. I don’t even need a nice peanut butter cookie to dip into it, although I certainly wouldn’t turn that down.

11. Opportunity — You never know when it’s going to happen, but it’s almost always out of the blue. Here’s to pleasant surprises.

10. Coffee — I’m not really the coffee snob some of my friends are. If I’m home, I like coffee because it usually relaxes me. (I know, that’s backwards, but I have caffeine immunity, what can I say?) If I’m with friends, coffee provides greater opportunities to just stop the world, hang out, and enjoy good conversation. Who could ask for more from brown water?

9. Seasons — My favorite season, by a long shot, is fall. The colors are spectacular and the temperatures — at least here in the South — are mild. Spring is a distant second, winter is third and summer is a distant fourth. If you’ve ever been to the South in summer, you probably can figure out why.

8. Blogging —

7. Television — Since I work in television, one might think I’d place this closer to number one. TV definitely has its moments, but it’s not the main thing in my life, and it likely never will be. And I’m fine with that.

6. Church — I realize that church has been a source of great pain for many. But churches that really follow God’s teaching, rather than their own avarice or prejudice, are communities that not only strengthen their own members, but look for ways to reach out to those around them. I’m blessed to be part of such a church now, and I can’t imagine going back to something else.

5. Laughter —

4. Family —

3. Dogs — There’s something about those four-legged friends of ours. For you cat people, feel free to substitute the word cats here instead. I don’t dislike cats, by the way, but for me, a dog is just the only way to go. They never stay mad at you, they’re always happy to see you, and they seem their happiest just being in your presence. I wish more people could be like dogs.

2. Friends — My “second mom” is quick to remind me that friends are chosen family. I like that thought, and I find it particularly true with my closest friends. In fact, the two closest friends I have absolutely treat me like we’re real brothers, and their families treat me like I’m one of them. Those are feelings we have for each other that came through no obligation other than just the desire to be close and to value each other at that level. That’s a powerful thing.

1. God — The Creator of us all, who loves us more than we can truly comprehend, and who has plans for us that we can’t fully imagine, and who gives us the choice to decide for ourselves if we’re willing to take those provisions.

That’s my list of 40 things. And really, if you’ve read this far, then you surely have a list of your own, right? So I challenge you to post yours! (And if you do, please leave a link because I’d like to read your picks, too!)

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.