By BOB FOULKES

Turning 60 was a milestone that couldn’t be ignored. Milestones are great; they offer a time to stop, reflect, take stock and do an accounting. They also offer an opportunity to look up and look around. If you pause long enough, you can consider the possibilities, the opportunities ahead.

Am I healthy? Do I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and clothes on my back? Do I have enough money to make it through the day, the week, the year? Do I have love in my life? Am I connected to my children, my family, my friends and my community? Am I happy at work? Is it my passion or something to pay my bills?

What would I rather be doing? What would an adventure look like if I could plan one? Sixty was my marker – a point to reassess and re-evaluate. There’s another reason to think big.

We are sticking around a lot longer. In Canada, the average life expectancy for men is 77. For women it is 82. Having reached sixty, my life expectancy is 81. I have another 21 years. My mother is 90, so I may even extend that date even further. We are likely to be healthy for more of that time.

I have nearly one-quarter of my life ahead of me. It is far too soon to hang up the skates, hitch my white belt up under my armpits and shuffle on down to the local restaurant for the early bird special.

I’ve had a good run. My 20s, 30s and 40s were consumed with developing my career, raising kids, becoming a success.

In my late 40s, I left my job, became a consultant, saw my youngest off to college, went through a very difficult divorce and gave up drinking and smoking.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you will wind up somewhere else” – Yogi Berra.

In my 50s, I took a job in a new city, lost 35 pounds, became a passionate runner, did a few marathons and triathlons, lost my job in a takeover, went through a short relationship that burned me badly, and moved a few more times.

I became used to change. While not quite a turmoil junkie, I developed flexibility to personal, career and lifestyle change.

I’m a communications consultant and a writer. A combination of pension, consulting and savings makes me comfortable.

I’m settled in Vancouver. Stanley Park is my personal 1,000-acre back yard.

But at 60, I needed more. I had too much time on my hands, too much energy, and too little to do. My life had become too small, too simple and too slow.

I did spend some time trying to figure out — what now? I pondered cosmic questions, navel gazed, read up on the subject, bored my friends with angst-ridden monologues — procrastination by another name. Procrastination is unsatisfying and I got tired and bored with myself. Travel didn’t fill the gap. Dessert all the time is not the foundation for a healthy diet.

I tried a few new careers, one called international democracy development with two weeks in Kuwait. It was incredible but not for me — too spicy. I poured energy and time into volunteer causes — a side dish but not a full meal.

Off the couch and into the street. Use it or lose it. You rust out, you don’t wear out. I had 20 years of freedom to make into the most meaningful of my life. In the end — blinding flash of the obvious — I went back to school. Cooking school. Six months of gruelling work; five days a week, eight to 10 hours a day. Hard-core training for serious chefs.

Why? I love to entertain; I love to gather people around a table, feed them and enjoy the interaction of people, conversation and laughter. I can do it until I die. I’m a shyly gregarious person. Dinner parties work for me; hosting works even better. Cooking good food and knowing how to set a decent table works best.

So, I was surrounded by kids one-third my age whose interests tend toward where to get a good tattoo. I navigated through open flames, boiling things and people with sharp knives all day trying to learn how to cook. After each class, I wandered into the night; dazed and confused and too tired to defend myself.

I loved every minute of it.

Was it the right choice? I’ll never know. Is it the right choice for you? I doubt it.

But to book-end this ramble, here’s Casey Stengel:

“The trick is growing up without growing old”

Peter Aspden, an excellent journalist who writes for various newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times, has written many articles which would be of interest to the readers of WisdomFishing.com. This article is entitled, How To Be a Middle-aged Man.

Need we say more?