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Birthday Wishes

Richard Connor

MY WIFE RECENTLY ASKED me if there was anything I wanted for my 65th birthday. She was racking her brain for a special gift, but was coming up empty.

I thought for a while, but couldn’t think of anything I really wanted. We have all the stuff we need. We’re blessed with a wonderful family, we live in a great beach town and we have enough assets for a comfortable retirement. We’ve spent 2022 working on our health and fitness, and we’ve made significant gains. What more could I want?

But the question nagged at me and I finally thought of some things I’d really like for my birthday. One of the common themes on HumbleDollar is the superiority of experiences over possessions. My wife and I embrace that ethic and are planning to take advantage of our retirement years to capture as many experiences as possible. These can be simple or grand. I think mixing the sublime and the prosaic makes life interesting.

  • I’d like to see more of Western Europe.
  • I want to visit Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
  • I’d like to visit the American and Canadian Rockies.
  • I want to go to the Canadian Maritime provinces and see the tidal bore at the Bay of Fundy.
  • I hope to visit many of the wineries in my home state.
  • I’d like to take regular day trips with my wife to explore nearby parks, museums and towns.
  • My goal is to maximize the use of our National Parks Senior Pass.

After I drew up that list, I came up with a second list—one that includes loftier ambitions. These may be tough to attain, but I think we should focus on what’s really important to us as we age. None of the things on my second list can be bought at the mall or on Amazon.

  • I’d like to celebrate my 50th, 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries with the love of my life.
  • I’d like to see my grandsons graduate elementary school, middle school, high school and college, and get married.
  • I’d like to watch my grandsons play baseball, basketball and soccer, or whatever sport they favor.
  • I’d like to see my children turn age 60. That’s the point at which my mother-in-law said she felt old.
  • I’d like to maintain my cognitive skills, mobility and independence for as long as possible.
  • I want to see close family and good friends as much as possible.
  • I wish to find ways to be useful to the greater world.
  • I wish to be decent, kind and brave.

Just as I was finishing this piece, I read an article on HumbleDollar about two different types of happiness. The idea of eudaimonic happiness clicked immediately. As it turns out, I have many birthday wishes. None includes more stuff.

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