birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

On a Continuum

It's all relative, of course.

Age, stage, perspective.

My parents, 79 and 78, show notable signs of slowing down. Hearing and communication with others are more difficult. My dad has had some falls, and he needed help when a 5k charity walk proved too taxing. More of my friends' parents are hospitalized or in care facilities.

But I'm more fit now than I was in most of my 40s, running and swimming and cycling more actively and productively. I feel more plugged in to the culture and the bigger perspective of things. I feel more appreciative of the moment.

Other contemporaries — family members, some friends — seem increasingly behind the times. They mock the internet and technology. They insist on phone calls when most people their age or younger are adept and more comfortable with the flexbility of texting.

Some colleagues, even many in their 30s, ostensibly still building their careers, express openly their desire to get off the fast track and to occupy their days more meaningfully. The complain of not having enough time to themselves.

So, to me at least, slowing down is gauged against both desires and expectations.

I don't miss 10-hour days in pursuit of other people's goals and financial gain. But I'd happily embrace 12-hour days engaged in shepherding meaningful projects and nurturing talent. And I like setting the agenda for my own day as much as possible.

Other friends — same age, same field, same financial strata — talk about how many short-term gigs or jobs (not career moves) they need to tally before reaching early retirement age.

My grandmother lived to 92, and she never slowed down until her late 80s, when physical limitations took their toll. Before then, she was always immersed socially, in church groups, in family events, in travel with friends. She did crosswords and word puzzles. She read voraciously. My Uncle Norb, in his mid-80s, still travels solo, mapping trips around through all 50 states and across all sides of the Great Lakes.

I'm a lifelong learner. Give me the cost of tuition and a bit of time and I'd keep taking classes in 20 different pursuits. I go to the Apple Store for the free workshops. There's a guy in his 80s working on video projects nearly every day of the week. My dad won't use the family iPad.

My friend's father never mastered use of a cellphone or email. My grandmother was born before the wide use of the automobile, and air travel, and computers. She loved all of them when they came into her life.

I'll follow her lead. I'm going to try to stay healthy. I've got two wine seminars coming up. I've taken data journalism courses and keep exploring that avenue. There are still Apple Store classes and workshops I haven't taken. I still love reading on a vast array of subjects and exploring popular entertainment, even if it's all not to my taste.

Slowing down? I'll define that positively at this age and stage: good to get some breathing room to appreciate things, but always eager to embrace change and to keep exploring. Opportunity fosters insight. Insight brings growth.

A little from column A, and a little from column B.

Do I sound old?

Not an escape from reality