Paul McCartney wrote the song, “When I’m 64” at the age of 16 and later recorded it in 1966. I have grown up with the song. I was twelve when he wrote it, twenty when he recorded it. I have listened to it most of my life. I remember reciting the lyrics in my youth, thinking of the inconceivably ancient age of sixty-four. I assumed by then I would be in a nursing home or dead. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”
Well, I am now sixty-four, and, strangely, I don’t feel old or anywhere near incapacitated. Last week I spent several days with some of my childhood friends. We are all sixty-four. Several of us were in Mrs. Pritchet’s first grade class at Robert E. Lee Elementary in Corsicana, Texas in 1953. We have the photo to prove it. Some of us now have little or no hair. Others of us have hair, but it is gray, unless we have found a good bottle of dye.
While we don’t feel old, and somehow envision ourselves as we once were in our youth, others apparently think we are old. When we went out to a restaurant together for dinner, the owner took pity on us and gave us a free dessert.
But, I realized something when I was with my sixty-four year old childhood friends. I realized we are all still on the journey. We started this journey together as children in post-World War II. We were the first baby boomers. We didn’t know what that meant. We just knew there were lots of us. We have journeyed through the Sixties, Viet Nam, Flower Power, the Moon landing, Watergate, Floppy Disks, the World Wide Web, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Desert Storm, the Dot Com Bust, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Great Recession (which is still with us). Our individual journeys have taken different turns and twists. Some have been military; some have been medical, some in business, some in education, and some in the Christian ministry. We have different political, economic and religious opinions. But we are all on the journey we first started, and we are all on the journey together.
It reminds me of the words Jesus first spoke to his followers. “Come and follow me.” God always invites us to a journey. His invitation is to all of us and His invitation is life-long. The journey never stops. It has valleys and mountaintops. It leads through sorrow and celebration. It encompasses wonder, worship and war. It includes pain, poverty and prosperity.
Now that I am 64, the age our generation has sung about since childhood, I am grateful for the journey. I am grateful for the companions God has given me to travel with. And I am grateful for the One who invited me to follow Him when I was young and still leads me when I am old.