Last week, my grand-daughter Ruby turned 8 years old. For me, that was 53 years ago. In that year, minimum wage was $1.60 and a Big Mac would take .49 cents out of that $1.60, Roy Jacuzzi invented the… you guessed it, the Jacuzzi, and Captain Kirk kissed Lieutenant Uhura making news as the first bi-racial kiss aired on TV. But the really Big BIG news for me was that I was now eight years old. I was no longer a mere child playing with Tinker Toys and Army Men, I discovered Mattel’s* newest offering, Hot Wheels which has kept me and some of my best friends little boys for over 50 years now. Mattel* should get royalties from the Fast and Furious franchise. 

But Ruby doesn’t own even one Hotwheels car, nor by all accounts will she ever want one. So I deferred to the better judgement of my wife and let her decide what Ruby would get from us for her birthday. My contribution was a poem of which I dare share 16 silly lines… 

Of all the ages that history can share,

Or those of which I can relate,

‘Nere Ice nor Stone, nor Bronze compare,

To the magical mystical age of eight.

They tell me there’s no going back,

I can’t relive a single date,

But if I could I think I’d track,

The magical marvelous day I turned 8. 

Being 5, I felt alive,

With Kindergarten at my door,

2 and 3, were too young for me,

At least I thought when I turned 4.

I cannot think of a better date, 

To one in which we all turn 8,

Not 9 or 10 nor eleventy-seventy-seven, 

Ever found me closer to heaven.

…then followed by 8 other lines I wish a few of my adult friends and family would read:

Keep your heart with all diligence, the proverb states,

Life’s issues hang in the balance.

For all of our blessings and all of our fates,

Are tied to desires, not talents. 

Seek out the best things and always aspire,

In all hard things to o’r come.

For what you insistently seek and desire, 

Is what you will truly become.

It took me a long time to find my heart but at 62, I think I have found it. Family, faith, good friends, and meaningful work are the fabric of my life now. My contrary nature is waning in the sunset like a train whistle in the distance. I argue less and lean into adversity more. 

My business partner and I are responsible for 25 professional house cleaners, all employees of Maids on the Spot, who just like me, work very hard because they actually like it. Every day, I wonder if I influence them for better or worse. One day, I hope you meet one or two of them. Perhaps, if you live in Mesa, Gilbert, or Chandler area they will clean your house one day. They are younger than me for sure. But they share a common grounding with me, just not a common age.  

One thing we do have in common, as I guess we share with you if you’ve chosen to read this far. We were all 8 years old once and likely received a ton of very good advice… which was quietly discarded on the playgrounds of our youth before we turned 9.