As my sixtieth birthday approached, running against the wind, sentimentality and nostalgia kicked in. The high school yearbook reminded me of the glory days and, at the same time, saddened me by how many classmates had died. My earlier years could be characterized as running against the wind. The mid-years as pushing for more. My early fifties as resettling, and my late fifties as a season of contentment, purpose, and joy. Yet, this birthday into a new decade was drawing near with a subtle push. It was accompanied by a simmering fear that aging would separate me into two versions of myself. The younger and the older. Coexistence didn’t seem to be an option.
Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Bob Seger Comes to Town
Amid my mental struggle, a friend called. Bob Seger was coming to town on his farewell tour, and she wanted us to go. The idea of seeing Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in concert attracted me as if magnets were attached to his music and my heart. His rock and roll songs were a part of many fond memories from my youthful days. True, he’s not a “Christian” performer- but we live in the world. And good music is good music!
We arrived at the concert arena and waited with 15,000 like-fans for the concert to start. When the 73-year-old Bob Seger stepped onto the stage, guitar in hand, I briefly panicked. What if his voice had aged, the band was tone deaf, and this was a last-ditch effort to reclaim their glory days? Had we purchased tickets hoping to recapture some of the romanticism of our youth, only to be disappointed?
Fears and Insecurities
My own fears of aging were projected onto Bob and his Silver Bullet Band. Would they have the same sound, or would their music and voices be weakened by age? It only took one down beat from the band and one note from Seger’s vocal chords to calm my fears. Both were better and stronger than ever. Every strum, beat, chord, and lyric wrapped around me like a security blanket as I basked in the familiarity.
At the close of the concert, photos of Bob Seger’s forty-year music career were shown as he performed on stage. He didn’t see himself as a “was then” and an “is now.” Nor did he see the progression of his life cut into different versions. His extended vision saw it as one timeline, with change and growth along the way, celebrating where he had been and where he was going. Still running against the wind, he said.
That’s when it hit me. Life is not about who we were then and who we are now. It is simply about who we are. We are the same person who is older, better, wiser, kinder, and gentler. We are who we are. Such an obvious and profound epiphany.
Still Running Against the Wind
Just because I have reached a greater age does not mean my life has less value. I am the same person with a stronger voice. My kindness now includes compassion and empathy. My dreams lean more toward eternal than temporal desires. The love I share has matured. I have purpose, only now I understand how to walk in that purpose. And I understand who I am and what I have to offer. I am created in God’s image, and the love, care, kindness, compassion, and companionship I offer have a great value because I am greatly valued.
Thank you, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. You are still going against the wind and modeling to us how to age gracefully and unashamedly. You are showcasing our timeline of life with pride and confidence of who we are and who we have always been. And greater still, thank you God that you know the number of our days, and you never leave us!
Mary Ethel Eckard