On Life’s Highway at 55

Me skydiving in the summer of 2011.

So yesterday I turned 55 years old and am now qualified for senior discounts virtually everywhere I go.  The idea of being a “senior” is sort of unreal to me.  I just know I am not that old, either physically or in spirit.

Most people guess me younger than my age.  This has happened my whole life.  It could just be that they are being nice, but I think it has more to do with how I approach life.  They say you are only as young as you feel and I honestly don’t think of myself in my 50’s or even my 40’s.  Mentally I still see myself in my twenties or possibly early 30’s.  Yes, the bones creak a little bit more, I have more pounds than I did twenty years ago, and younger people call me, “Sir”, but I have an incredible amount of energy.

Every birthday once I got past 41 has been a gift–it’s what I call my bonus time.  That’s the age my father was when he died of a massive heart attack and when I hit it I spent pretty much the whole year in terror.  But I am now 14 years past that despite surviving a major heart attack myself not quite four years ago.  Now I consider myself on double bonus time.  My mother has lived more than twice as long as my father did.  She is now 87 years old and has survived many falls and illnesses and is determined to keep on going for quite some time yet.  A great-great grandmother on my father’s side lived to be over 100 years old.

The thing is we can’t predict when we’re going to die, but we can determine how we’re going to live.  I think part of the reason I stay young is that I stay involved in life and I have so many plans for the future.  I have countless things yet to accomplish in my life.  Every day is an adventure.  I look for new experiences.  I stay involved in life.  I stay connected with nature and I stay connected with young people, both of which rejuvenate me on a constant basis.

I am a “senior” in chronological age only.  In my soul I am a child filled with wonder.  I live my life with curiosity and with a hunger to experience it fully.  I will not discount any part of living my life.  55?  56?  60?  It doesn’t matter.  Bring it on.  I will travel life’s highway at any age and I will experience the journey as fully as I can.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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1 Response to On Life’s Highway at 55

  1. Excellent attitude, I think. I’m 22 years and 10 days ahead of you, freed from having to work coming on 13 years now, and determined to continue growing in mind and spirit.

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