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Roger Marolt: A few notes scribbled in the margins before Chapter 60

With age — and aging — comes wisdom on life

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

“At 20 you have the face God gave you; at 40 the face life gave you; at 60 the face you deserve.”

Dr. Albert Schweitzer said that. Lincoln said something similar before and many others have since. I have been 20. I have been 40. I recognize truth in this analog version of facial recognition. I now place trust in the makers of “anti-aging” creams and “rapid repair” moisturizers. I turn 60 next week.

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” fascinates me. The crux is that Dorian Gray wishes he could trade his soul so that a recent portrait of him ages rather than himself, freeing him to forever pursue the earthly pleasures afforded easily to handsome young men. The wish is granted and Dorian remains young while the painting of him grows hideously ugly as the sins of his endless hedonistic life accumulate. In the end, Dorian realizes the unbearable weight of his carnal indulgences when he gazes upon the portrait he hid away when it had only begun to turn ugly. It is now hideous. In shame and disgust he slashes madly with a knife at the portrait. His servants later find an ugly old man, a knife through his heart, lying lifeless beside the portrait of the young and beautiful Dorian Gray. Does growing old actually save us from ourselves?



We know mean old people and we have also met those whose dispositions remain sweet and charming, accepting hardships as “just a part of getting old.” My mother is pure inspiration in this regard. That is wholly an expression of thanksgiving.

My father seemed to reach a turning point at 60. Before this he was strong, proud and unshakably sure. People admired him, as did I. It was appropriate for an athlete matured into a business career and a reliable family man. At 60 it all appeared to boil down into wisdom. Swagger was replaced with humble confidence, the expression of his worldview converted to wit and his fierce instinct to protect those close to him into comforting expressions of love. He modeled graceful aging.




I don’t care if 60 is the new 40 or if it’s the old 80. The thing I know is that in every year of life it is critical to improve, not from an economic or social aspect, but from the human aspect. Every year gone was either wasted or utilized well. It’s almost impossible to evaluate this year by year, so you’re better off acting day to day, just to make sure.

Making a fortune is laudable only if the fortune gained is matched by the amount of good you do with it. Fame is worth only as much as the goodness you promote from the stage afforded you. Seeing the world is only worthwhile when you use what you have seen to make what you have yet to see better. Those who possess physical beauty will naturally receive more than they earn. Recognizing this will allow them to see the world the way the world sees them. Knowing what we don’t know — and realizing this is far more than we do know — is the mark of profound intelligence. What we say matters a lot. What we do matters a lot more. Love God. Love your neighbor. It sounds easy, so don’t be fooled.

Reading Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” again, one great quote among at least a hundred is when Ma says, “If you’re in trouble or hurt or need — go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help.”

I believe it is easier to make a million dollars than to give a million away, because many more do the former. But still, it’s not greed that prevents us from giving. I think this goes back to not knowing what we don’t know. Poor people know how poor people suffer, so they share all they have. If we knew, we would, too. We only need to take more time to understand in order to give more generously. Charity all comes down to our time.

You must read favorite books at least twice. They’re great because they moved you. They moved you because truth resonates. Go back to remind yourself of those truths. If they don’t seem true anymore, even better. You’ve grown!

I had smooth skin at 20. I had crow’s feet on the temples at 40. Now I have wrinkles. They verify I’m 60. Whatever else they tell, it is not for me to say. Fortunately, I still have the chance to blow all those candles out in one puff.

Roger Marolt is happy that his 60th birthday is a good excuse to take the afternoon off and go skiing, no matter how busy he is at work. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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