It was June 15, and in two days I would be turning thirty. I was insecure about entering a new decade of my life and feared that my best years were now behind me.
My daily routine included going to the gym for a workout before going to work. Every morning I would see my friend Nicholas at the gym. He was seventy-nine years old and in terrific shape. As I greeted Nicholas on this particular day, he noticed I wasn’t full of my usual vitality and asked if there was anything wrong. I told him I was feeling anxious about turning thirty. I wondered how I would look back on my life once I reached Nicholas’s age, so I asked him, “What was the best time of your life?”
Without hesitation, Nicholas replied, “Well, Joe, this is my philosophical answer to your philosophical question:
“When I was a child in Austria and everything was taken care of for me and I was nurtured by my parents, that was the best time of my life.
“When I was going to school and learning the things I know today, that was the best time of my life.
“When I got my first job and had responsibilities and got paid for my efforts, that was the best time of my life.
“When I met my wife and fell in love, that was the best time of my life.
“The Second World War came, and my wife and I had to flee Austria to save our lives. When we were together and safe on a ship bound for North America, that was the best time of my life.
“When we came to Canada and started a family, that was the best time of my life.
“When I was a young father, watching my children grow up, that was the best time of my life.
“And now, Joe, I am seventy-nine years old. I have my health, I feel good and I am in love with my wife just as I was when we first met. This is the best time of my life.”
(Joe Kemp, A 5th Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul)