Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

 

I’m buttonburstingly proud to announce that today I am  celebrating my (gasp!) 80th birthday.

Some of us try to turn back our life’s odometer. Others of us want people to know why we look this way. We admit that we have bumps and dents and scratches in our finish and the paint job is getting a little dull. And sure, the fenders are too wide to be in style and our seats are sagging. The battery no longer holds a charge, and the headlights have dimmed. The hoses are brittle, and much of the original tire tread is worn away. The transmission stays in low gear and doesn’t easily shift to high. We don’t convert our fuel as efficiently as we used to, and climbing any hill is liable to cause sputtering. And whenever we sneeze or cough, our radiator seems to leak and our exhaust system backfires..

But you know what? We’ve traveled many, many miles, and some of the roads weren’t paved. Wisdom and laughter are our shock absorbers. We’ve become classics.

And we’re not alone: 518 million men and women worldwide are 65 or older, including more than one out of every eight people in the United States.

I’m no longer a spring chicken; I’m a winter chicken. I’m no longer wet behind the ears; I’m dry behind the years. I’m no longer knee high to a grasshopper; I’m sky high above a grasshopper. I’m not a hasbeen. I’m an abouttobe.

While growing older is mandatory, feeling old is optional. Attitude is ageless. More than two millennia ago, the Greek playwright Sophocles wrote, “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.” Only at sunset is the day truly golden. The later the hour of the day, the longer the shadow you cast.

The poet Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made.” I may be over the hill, but that’s better than being under the hill — and it’s not till you’re going downhill that you really pick up speed! Birthdays are good for you: The more of them you have, the longer you live.

Gentle Reader: You’ll never be younger again than you are right now! There is only one way to live a long life, and that is to age. And there is only one way to age — with a smile. If you are able to laugh at yourself, you’ll never cease to be amused. After all, you’re only old once.

Yes indeed, fullness of years makes for fullness of life. For one thing, you’re surrounded by a lot of friends: As soon as you wake up, Will Power is there to help you get out of bed. Then you go and visit John. When you play golf, Charley Horse shows up to be your partner. As soon as he leaves, along come Arthur Ritis and his five aunts — Aunt Acid, Auntie Oxidant, Auntie Biotic, Auntie Coagulant and Auntie Inflammatory — and you go the rest of the day from joint to joint. After such a busy day, you’re Petered and Tuckered out and glad to go to bed — with Ben Gay, of course!

Studies show that one’s body temperature declines from decade to decade and that the drop becomes particularly pronounced chronologically endowed people. Therefore, I am becoming one of the coolest people in San Diego.

Now that I am full of years and white of hair and the evening star glows in the sky, now that my sere, my yellow leaf falls from bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang, I know that as life accumulates, the beauty steals inward. And I find myself filled with one overmastering emotion:

Gratitude —

For my wife Simone van Egeren and the saucy Holland days I have so loved with her; for family, which now embraces seven grandchildren; for enduring friendships; for a lifelong addiction to learning; for the privilege of sharing my words about words in this space for six years, for the abundant benison of our astonishing city, to which Simone and I moved 21 years ago and which felt like home the minute we set foot here — and for the miraculous gift of life: what it has been, what it is and what it will become.

Hurrah!