Yogi Berra said, "It's like deja vue all over again." That is exactly how I felt a couple months ago watching John Glenn rocket into outer space. Three dozen years ago, I was a freshman at Muskingum College in New Concord, OH-Glenn's hometown. After several scrubbed attempts, the launch was rescheduled for January 20th-my birthday. Due to some additional glitches, Glenn had to wait another month before he orbited the earth.

As the space shuttle rose into the blue skies last October, I remembered when I was a young student at college. Now, I'm teaching a class at a college and my daughter is a freshman at another college. Where has all the time gone? In those three dozen years, my three children became adults, and much has changed for me-physically and emotionally. I'm graying and wrinkling albeit a little wiser.

Mission Control's haunting benediction, "Godspeed, John Glenn," was pronounced at both launches. However, I feel like I've been rocketed into middle age (if turning fifty-six next week can still be considered middle age). As the shuttle rose from the launch pad, I thought that those three dozen years have flown by at God's speed. At this rate, I'll be nearing my target of matching George Burns' century mark in another forty-four years.

That evening after watching the lift-off again, I sat quietly in front of my computer to reflect upon this milestone times two. Here are some of my thoughts that might also be helpful to you.

  • Life isn't counted merely in terms of months and years as much as how we spend the time that we possess. Therefore, I am taking stock of what I am doing with the time that I have been given. Our time on earth in finite-especially at this end of life. No one should waste time-especially at my age. I need to look carefully at the way that I spend my remaining time.
  • Health issues also should be given attention. Annual physicals, daily exercise, and a proper diet should be priorities for each of us. You and I need to look carefully at our lifestyles. Youth has a way of permitting things that our bodies don't forgive when we are older. Here again, I am taking stock of my lifestyle and making changes where necessary by reducing stress and managing time more wisely. I wish to live a long life, but I want it to be as happy and healthy as it can be. Longevity without health and happiness isn't a blessing.
  • A positive mental attitude is also critical. For me, there is a difference between aging and growing old. We all age. Aging is merely one year added to the previous year. It is natural to age. Growing old implies for me a negative emotional process in addition to physical change. Growing old is a shift in attitude. I believe that this shift speeds our physical and emotional deaths. Therefore, as we age, we need to pay attention to the ways that we think and act.

For example, don't complain about the past. If you can change the effects of the past on the present, make the changes. However, if there isn't anything that you can do, forget it and go on. Dragging past mistakes or hurts into the present merely contaminates today and tomorrow with the cancer of the past. It is bad enough that you had to suffer through it the first time. Don't compound the future by orbiting in past problems.

Focus upon positive goals and hopes. I really do want to equal George Burns' life span. I believe that with a positive mental attitude, I have a good chance of doing it. Besides, George and I share the same birthday. That should count for something. If I believe that it will, it will.

Regardless of your age, take some time this weekend to evaluate your life. Do it soon, for time has a strange way of going by at "God's speed." Good luck with your flight.