By Robert A. Vella

What’s the colloquial expression for one’s 60th birthday? Do we “turn,” “reach,” or “hit” sixty years of age? I don’t recall, but in any case The Secular Jurist is now 60 – not the blog, just me.

An acquaintance once described this chronological milestone as “being three-quarters to nowhere,” meaning that a foreseeable death will return the corporeal substances of our being back into the cosmic ether. Never a religious man, the statement has always had great import to me.

Sixty years, a span of linear-measured time during which the Earth has completed only 60 revolutions around the Sun. For comparison, Earth is over 4.5 billion years old. In other words, I’ve been alive for an incredibly microscopic .00000001333 (.000001333 percent) of the age of the planet on which I reside. Or, to put it another way, Earth is 75 million times as old as I am. If that isn’t sufficient to give people a humbling feeling of insignificance, I don’t know what would.

Since I was a youngster, my essential nature has always been strongly contrarian. A stubborn naiveté brought me into moral and ethical confrontations with family, friends, and colleagues. I couldn’t accept many of the prevailing attitudes of contemporary culture which were so easily digestible by most people. To me, morality isn’t something arbitrarily determined by snapshots of majority opinion – but rather, a philosophical commitment to sound, well-thought out principles. The so-called Golden Rule always met that threshold from my point of view.

The role of a contrarian is to hold up a mirror in the face of society. That’s what I’ve done and continue to do to this very day. However, people don’t always like looking at themselves. They prefer to ignore or hide their weaknesses while emphasizing their strengths. Those who present the mirror are frequently shunned and are sometimes met with hostility. It isn’t a comfortable position to maintain, especially when the mirror is reflecting one’s own image.

But, we are what we are and must accept what we are. Humanity needs its contrarians and non-conformists just as it needs its other personalities.

Getting old is a collision, of sorts, between declining physiological functions and an incidental coalescence of wisdom. When young, we are generally full of the former and bereft of the latter. But, by the time we realize it, this peculiar balance reverses.

Best wishes to all my fellow sexagenarians!

32 thoughts on “Three-Quarters to Nowhere: The Secular Jurist is 60

  1. Congrats on your having made it around the sun 60 times! If you are beginning to experience the mellowing of ageing, it only gets better. At least my 75 rotations are proving so.


  2. Sometimes it can be daunting realising there is more road in the rear-view mirror than what lies up ahead through the windscreen.
    And even more daunting because one is never sure of the destination, only yhr fact that we’ll run out of road! 🙂

    Happy Birthday, Robert.
    Hope it’s a good one. All the best mate.


  3. Ah Robert, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. From the looks of the many comments you’ve received, it’s clear that you AND your contrary perspectives are valued by a lot of people. I’m one of them 🙂

    (Just curious – Did Google send you a happy birthday notice? I’m still wondering if I should be concerned about the birthday wish they sent me…)


    • It’s been a pleasant day, Carol, especially when hearing from creative, hopeful, and kindhearted people such as yourself. I feel most fortunate.

      I got nothing from Google that I’m aware of. Be careful, you might have received something like an advertising gimmick, data mining scam, or malware of some sort. I’d recommend doing a full anti-malware scan on your computer. There’s several free anti-viral tools available on the internet in case your system is currently unprotected.


      • My birthday’s in February, so it was come time ago. It was a birthday card via gmail and a link to a video I had posted on Youtube. My granddaughter was delighted by the fancy birthday card, but I thought it was a little creepy. (Of course I didn’t have the heart to tell her that. We just laughed about it.).

        I do have malware protection through Comodo – and for the past 3 plus years, they’ve done a good job.

        Surveillance of not, I decided to live my life honestly without being afraid. It doesn’t mean I am careless – I saw what happened to the life of one of my students when homeland security had her on their radar.


  4. Happy birthday Bob.
    We can all be young, but to grow to a mature age is for the lucky few. I am not saying you are there yet, but almost.
    Wishing you many more birthdays


  5. Happy birthday, Robert. Are you retired yet? It’s something to really enjoy – you don’t need to be nice to bosses anymore! Or customers or clients! Or publishers! (You can be nice if you want to, of course.) 🙂

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    • Thanks JoAnn, yes I’m retired. My professional career wasn’t punctuated so much with interpersonal conflicts as much as it was with operational and policy disagreements with upper management. But, I hear you – providing customer service for the public can be a real nightmare!

      Liked by 1 person

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