Seventy-One

Birthday Ride

Today, this trunk of a body grows another ring. Today, I turn seventy-one. Yesterday, despite the mercury rising only a couple of degrees above freezing and with a coat of snow adorning the ground, I went on a long bike ride. I did this for two reasons. First, there’s almost nothing like a bike ride to help me feel my connection with the world in an exhilarating way. And second, I wanted to make a statement to myself that I won’t yield to the clichés of aging.

When I was a much younger man, I thought that when I reached my seventies, it would be time for the rocking chair and for waiting to be harvested by the Grim Reaper. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every day, I rise to the work I love, to the people who surround me with an atmosphere of caring, to all the challenges that at any age are monumental. Is there a time I would go back to or an age I would prefer to be? Hell, yes, but it will never happen. So with a full heart, I embrace this body and this life as they are for me on the anniversary of the day I was born into this marvelous world, this astounding universe.

5 thoughts on “Seventy-One”

  1. Happy belated birthday to you Mr. Krueger!
    As I share the same amount of revolutions around the sun as you, I applaud your perspective concerning your emotions on reaching the age of 71.
    May you peacefully continue on your marvelous journey through this wonderful creation, with a happy heart and a clear eye!
    Thank you for sharing your creative writing ability with all of us.

  2. Happy Belated B-day day Mr. Kureger! Looks like you are riding a RAD bike! I hope so; when I ride mine, I feel like my childhood has returned. Thanks for your novels — I am enjoying them.

  3. I just read my first ever William Kent Krueger book, This Tender Land. OMG! I love your prose, your characters. I wrote in my diary that I “lost my Self” as I traveled with the Vagabonds. Thank you.

    I will be 75 on December 20th. Three quarters of a century seems like a significant amount of time to have been exploring this planet and this life. The 70s have been an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to including more of your books in my journey.

  4. Dear Mr. Krueger – I just finished my first book of yours, “This Tender Land,” and was very moved by it. My great aunt was a teacher in the Indian Boarding School system, and I wrote a thesis about her for my degree at theology school, trying to answer the question about why a strong, spicey and outspoken good woman would participate in such a system.

    I started theology school, by the way, at the age of 69, after my husband died and I needed somewhere to think things over. I graduated 2 years ago, at the age of 72. Fortunately, I attended a most unusual school, amazingly progressive (Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO).

    Which brings me to an outpouring of gratitude that I want to offer to you. Toward the end of “Tender” you write, “There is a river that runs through time and the universe, vast and inexplicable, a flow of spirit that is at the heart of all existence, and every molecule of our being is a part of it. And what is God but the whole of that river?” You’ve expressed so beautifully a very powerful spiritual experience I had when I expected to die as I had a brain aneurysm. I was “told” to surrender and felt I could fall back into a river of all the souls and spirits of every being -plants, people, critters, maybe even rocks- past, present and future. It was a river of love and I knew it was God and that I would be lifted up and carried along in comfort, safety and peace, whether I lived or died. You’ve named and described something very real to me, and in such a deep, simple, eloquent way. Thank you.

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