I attended a Tony Bennett concert in Nashville this week and was absolutely “wowed”. Not only was I impressed by the artist musically but learned so much from the evening that I had to take a few minutes to record my thoughts.
First a confession; I’ve not really been a fan of the 1950’s era crooner or the genre’ of music I associated him with. The thought of spending an hour or more in a concert hall was not something I was particularly excited about. I was prepared to make this small sacrifice however. The tickets were an anniversary gift to Patty and I from Jeremy and Erika and they were accompanying us for the evening and treating us to a fabulous dinner. Rob and Sheila volunteered to stay behind to watch the grandkids. I HAD to put a good face on it. As we made our way to our seats in the packed concert hall, I was relieved to note I was only one seat from the aisle. This would allow me a quick ‘break’ if things got too boring.
My need for an escape proved totally unnecessary. I was spellbound for more than 90 minutes by what I saw occurring before me and what it was doing to me. I’m still not a raving fan of jazz, classics, big band era vocals and show-tunes—or whatever it is they call what he was doing. What impressed me was the energy, vitality and passion that came from this man as he performed. He connects with his audience as he sings and dances—yes dances, throughout this marathon performance without benefit of even an intermission. I wanted to learn more about this man. Born Anthony Dominick Benededtto he will be 85 years-old this August and yet he still performs up to 200 concerts per year. He still is recording and producing albums that will sell millions of copies. He is also an accomplished artist with paintings in some of the nations finest galleries. He draws, sketches or paints daily. His musical career peaked during the 1950’s but hit an impasse that sent him to near financial ruin for several years. His greatest productivity and creativity came after the age of 60. His list of accomplishments since that time are staggering. Someone failed to communicate to Mr. Bennett that he was past his prime and just too old.
My own father is 86 years, five months old. He inspires me every time I visit with him, email him or talk with him on the telephone. I’ve always loved and admired him but never more than now. The years have given him such depth of insight on things that really matter. He has always been a prolific story-teller. In these later years he has begun to write and record his story in his own words. He continues to have an impact—in some ways more than he ever has. He is our reminder that with God there are no accidents or coincidences. God weaves a marvelous tapestry with every event of our lives. If we learn to trust and worship Him we will get the joy of seeing this for ourselves.
I am 59 but I don’t feel old. While it’s true my body does not seem to heal or recover as fast as it did when I was 35, I’m not ready to get “old” yet. If by old you mean ‘over the hill’ or past your prime I choose to totally reject that notion. I refute it based upon scripture, history, medical science and the conviction in my heart that the best is yet to come. I have dreams yet to dream—and to achieve. I have experience and wisdom acquired that I need to share. I’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
I think I’m in good company. I’m of that generation of post-WWII Baby Boomers, who came of age believing we had a destiny to fulfill and a world to change. Many of us got distracted for awhile by the business of living and surviving. We are nearing the time our government and much of society tell us we can ‘retire’ and step aside. There is a ‘fire in our gut’ that tells us we haven’t finished yet. There is a part of us that longs for the freedom from the daily grind but the idea of not being productive is repulsive. This can and should be our greatest hour. Like Old Testament Caleb, who upon turning 80 years old and after leading the armies of Israel for many successful campaigns says to God: “Give me this mountain…”we too long for an even greater campaign. Something ‘lit a fire’ under Tony Bennett that catapulted him to a level of productivity that he had never known as a young man. I want to likewise refocus and submit myself totally to my Creator. What does He yet have for me to do? I cannot control the number of my days; that is in His hands. I can decide that whatever I have left I give them to Him first and without reserve.