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Ten years ago, my sister gave me and my family a calendar. It is 183 pieces of 2-sided paper sitting in a plastic frame. Each page has a day/date/month/year on both sides. Every morning we place the front piece of paper to the back of the pile, revealing the next day/date/month. It’s usually my wife who performs this daily ritual. After 6 months, we flip the whole pile so the back sides of each page are revealed for the rest of the year.

It’s a very practical system. To me, the key element to each page is an amazing 5-inch square color picture of an awesome bird, mostly birds I’d never even knew existed, let alone seen. The bird pictures are so colorful, striking and enjoyable that, on December 31, we flipped the whole pile back over and started the calendar all over again. Of course, the year was incorrect all year long, and the day of the week was wrong almost every day.

But the bird pictures were more than just right for the whole year. An amazing splotch of creation and color right there on our kitchen counter. And they have remained just so for the past ten years, because we are still flipping that same calendar every day.

This morning, the year and day were wrong, as usual. The beautiful bird picture was of an American Golden-Plover (pluvialis dominica). This amazing little bird has a black face and chest and a white forehead with a thin white stripe running along the sides of its head and down over its ‘shoulders’. Incredibly, the top of its head and its body are dappled everywhere with small yellow and gold hearts!

The design is almost unobtrusive, but, once my eyes focused on the small golden heart-shapes, I could not stop staring. They are absolutely amazing. Today was the first time I really saw the American Golden-Plover. The picture had been in my face ten times, but I’d never appreciated it.

After examining and just staring at the picture, a thought popped into my mind: “I’d love to see this spectacular little bird up close in the wild.” What a novel idea, to make special trips into the habitat of birds to watch them. Then I thought about doing that with some friends or like-minded people.

And then I quickly realized that’s what bird-watchers do! Duh. I do feed birds in my backyard, but I’m no bird-watcher, traipsing through the woods with binoculars, and I never have been. As I age, however, I am changing, and possibilities emerge. The really cool thing is that I’m becoming aware of that changing.

The declinist view of our aging is that it’s all downhill. The truth is that there are always possibilities open to us in our third third of life. We don’t always see them, like it took me ten years to see the amazing picture of the American Golden-Plover.

In the land of post-adulthood, life can keep getting better.


laughing man

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