Michael Jackson and the call of the bassoon

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Here’s what is on my mind this morning.

I’m about to be 50 years old. “I’m 50! Fifty years old!” (Anyone remember that SNL skit? Probably not, because you’d have to be close to 50 to remember it, and if you’re close to 50, your memory may have already turned sour.)

If you go inside my mind, and see the picture of myself that represents me when I’m watching what I’m doing, that guy is not 50. I think I’m probably 35 or so in there. I know I’m not a child, or a teenager, or even a young adult. But a 50 year old is a guy with a bald spot, and a gray beard, who suffers from injuries if he goes too hard at sports … Wait a minute. That is me, LOL.



If you’re someone with his one foot in the grave like I am, you may recognize a phenomenon similar to this:

[Newscast] “This June will mark the 19th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death…”

[Me} “What?! That wasn’t 19 years ago. I remember being on the beach when I heard it. I was with Erin and Dave with the kids, drinking beers and having fun. We had just moved to Delaware the year before, and were still settling into our new house. So, let’s see. That would have been 2009. That’s not 19 years ago. Oh wait. That is 19 years ago. Shit.”

When I was younger, and could still use my five senses, and eat whatever food I wanted to eat without worrying about it, I had heard old people (people around 50 years old or so – decrepit old geezers) say that, as you got older, time seemed to go by more quickly. I’m seeing it happen now. In fact, as another example, yesterday was April 10, which marks the anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Titanic in 1912. I remember it like it was yesterday…

What’s the point?

The point is, that I’m becoming aware that my next 10 years is going to go by quickly, unless I make a solid intention to focus in on my days and make the most of them. Guess what? You, my reader, have the next 10 years in front of you, just like I do. Whether you commit yourself to developing your legacy over those 10 years, or choose (by not choosing) to just let them float by without centering in on what you are here on this earth to accomplish, in 10 years, it will be 10 years from now.

What is it you wish to accomplish? How do you want people to remember you? How do you want to remember yourself? I’m not asking you to make any monumental commitments here, like bringing about a thousand-year era of peace and prosperity, or curing cancer. I’m asking you to think about your sphere of influence – the people in your neighborhood, your family, your friends, the people you encounter on social media – and decide what kind of person you want to be. Then, go out and look for opportunities to be that person.

You want people to think of you as a kind person? The opportunities to be kind to others, on any given day, are endless. You want to achieve some kind of goal, like traveling, or making a certain amount of money, or learning how to play the bassoon? Go out and saturate yourself with information and people who can get you closer and closer to your goal.

Do you think it’s too late? Are you 50, and feel like it’s all over? Your chance to do something great and noteworthy with your life has passed?

Guess what? In 10 years, you will either have 10 years of practicing and moving toward your goal under your belt, or you will be 10 years older, still wishing you had picked up that bassoon. Doesn’t matter what you do – 10 years is going by.

Go out and begin those 10 years today. Starting….now.


Dr. John D. Rich Jr. is an educational psychologist and associate professor of Psychology at Delaware State University, a retired United Methodist minister, a full-time husband and father of two sons. His articles appear in Psychology Today, and you can hear Dr. John every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on the Matt Connarton Unleashed radio show on WMNH 95.3 FM. Also, check out  drjohnrich.com for more info. Got questions? Dr. John will help you navigate. Reach him directly at info@drjohnrich.com.

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