It is hard to believe that the members of the arguably greatest rock band in history, the Rolling Stones, are actually all looking down the barrel of age 70 and older. They are still rocking, and a new tour is in the works for South America. If you know Keith Richards, their lead guitarist, you will have to say there is a lot of mileage on his face alone. If you know his life, it’s a miracle he is still alive.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, he had to say the following things about getting older:
In a conversation punctuated by his wheezy, conspiratorial growl of a laugh, he was a man at ease with himself as a rock elder. “It’s all a matter of perspective and which end of the telescope you’re looking at,” he said.
“Nobody wants to croak, but nobody wants to get old,” he said. “When the Stones started, we were 18, 19, 20, and the idea of being 30 was absolutely horrendous. Forget about it! And then suddenly you’re 40, and oh, they’re in it for the long haul. So you need to readjust, and of course kids happen and grandchildren, and then you start to see the pattern unfolding. If you make it, it’s fantastic.”
As I read this, I had to smile. Inspirational wisdom coming from an old rocker (rock star, I guess I should say), who somehow survived the perils of celebrity, alcohol and drugs, thousands of groupies, is a bit surprising to me. Yet, as I thought about it, Keith Richards probably came upon these thoughts simply because he survived his life and was able to look back on it. Not everyone gets that chance, especially with the lifestyle rock stars lead. There is a graveyard full of young kids who couldn’t get beyond the temptations of self-destruction.
We have no guarantees in this life, and I don’t recommend Keith Richard’s lifestyle to anyone, but there is something about looking at the Roman Coliseum, that is a wreck, and discovering something ageless and beautiful. A classic car or a rare antique or an Impressionist painting is a similar experience.
The problem is that many people are not in it for the long haul. They sell out too soon, they give up, they lose patience, and they fail to see that, if you make it through, it can be “fantastic”. In the end, God gives you this life as a gift. How you live it is how offer it back to God in thanksgiving.