Celebrating My 60th

Gabrielle Gray, my dear partner, and me in California, October 2015. Photo/Keith Schneider
Gabrielle Gray and me in California, October 2015. Photo/Keith Schneider

OWENSBORO, KY— I made it. Tomorrow, April 19, 2016 is my 60th birthday. It feels great. Purposeful. Definitive. Fully engaged. Fun.

Turning 60 means you’ve been around for awhile. If I were a kitchen I’d have been remodeled at least three times. If I were a maple tree I’d be 80 feet tall. If I were a blue whale, I’d weigh 150 tons.

Turning 60 means that you’ve learned a few things. You learn that when a woman asks if you’re hungry you don’t say “no.” You head to the fridge and make her a sandwich.

Turning 60 makes you appreciate more the things you didn’t as a younger man — like the color of shutters on a house, or how bike paths are a measure of a city’s quality of life.

Turning 60 means you’re reconciled to life’s episodic bullying, recovered from inescapable misfortune and grief, and made a solemn pact with yourself to keep breathing.

My mother reminds me about how hard I took turning 40. I don’t remember that. I do remember how hard 1996 was, breathing life into a new public interest organization in northern Michigan. I never worked that hard before or since.

Keith Schneider in Cape Town February 2016. Photo/Gabrielle Gray
Keith Schneider in Cape Town February 2016. Photo/Gabrielle Gray

Turning 50 was a party. In fact it was six parties with family and friends in three states.

Tomorrow I turn 60. That’s 21,900 days. As a guy who’s led an examined life it’s entirely pleasing to note that not many of them got away from me. My dearest friends tell me I’m hopelessly optimistic. My family thinks it’s cute. Gabrielle Gray, my dear, dear partner remarked the other day that when she asks me first thing, ‘How are you?’ I always reply, ‘I’m good.'”

I am good. Never better, actually. By 60 it’s plain that the three most important assets in life are these: Love. Time. Health. There’s no particular universal formula for acquiring them. I found that good fortune, a bit of discipline, and a sizable portion of motivation are involved.

I’m not planning to alter any of the factors that led me to this point and place. I’m just so grateful for all that life spread before me. I love my family, my friends, my home, my work. I know enough to cherish my days and the people in them. After all, tomorrow I turn 60.

— Keith Schneider

Gabrielle Gray and Keith Schneider in Cape Town February 2016. Photo/Keith Schneider
Gabrielle Gray and Keith Schneider in Cape Town February 2016. Photo/Keith Schneider

5 Replies to “Celebrating My 60th”

  1. By 60 it’s plain that the three most important assets in life are these: Love. Time. Health. There’s no particular universal formula for acquiring them. I found that good fortune, a bit of discipline, and a sizable portion of motivation are involved.

    Keith,
    Sounds like wisdom to me.
    Happy Birthday!
    Lovely exposition.
    Love, Reed

  2. Happy, happy birthday Keith, what a beautiful piece you wrote, a very touching tribute to your lovely Gabrielle, your wonderful family, and to you!
    All the best
    Suzanne Spitzer

  3. Happy Birthday, Uncle Keith! I only hope I can express as much wisdom and experience half as much as you have by my 60th birthday :).

    Love,
    Mariel

  4. Your upbeat birthday blog is fabulous, Keith. May your 60’s bring you everything you hope for, along with a gloriously Happy Birthday today!

  5. Congratulations Keith.
    It was a highlight to meet you and Gabriella earlier this year and spent some time together on issues that we all consider as important. We wish you many more years to come and looking forward to all the articles yet to come from your pen. Keep well till we meet again.

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