Sometime this weekend I’m going to reach one of those milestones life hands out if we are lucky enough to live long enough to earn it.
In my case, I’m turning 50, but I don't really see the significance of that in the scheme of things. My daughter Abby isn’t all that impressed. She told my wife this week that to her it seems like I’ve been 40 for 50 years.
I’m not sure what that means.
What I do know, however, is that 50 years equals five decades or 599.99 months, 2607.14 weeks, 18,250 days, or 438,000 hours.
Was I able to do that math because I’ve been around so long?
No, but I am at an age where I’ll readily admit I don’t know much about anything and that I use Google to find most of the answers I’m after. Thanks to the internet I’m an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber, and a mechanic. I don’t do any of those things great, but I’m handy enough around the house, so there’s one thing 50 years on any planet will get you — experience.
Here’s what else I know: On the surface, 50 isn’t cool like 16 or 18 or 21, but it is more impressive than anything between 22 and 49. Although, that’s not saying much. The birthdays marking those years come and go with little fanfare. It's just another day of the week, another date on the calendar, or, in 2021, another day where strangers we call friends on social media can wish us a happy birthday just because Facebook reminds them to do so.
I’m sure this version of the annual greetings will be filled with witty commentary pointing out my advanced age and how it somehow relates to hills and being over them.
Hardy, har, har.
In all seriousness though (and at this age it’s time to get serious, right?) when I was a kid, 50 seemed old.
As a teenager, I’d look at some poor 50-year-old schlub, shuffling his or her way to work every morning, and point and laugh at the poor sucker.
Now, I look in the mirror and see that sucker.
Still, looking at my reflection staring back at me, it doesn’t really register that I’m knocking on the door of the big 5-0 because I don’t feel a day over 16 in my brain.
I still feel like a kid inside and mostly act like one.
I still watch professional wrestling and follow it like I’m 13 again and sitting on my grandmother’s floor on a Sunday morning watching the Road Warriors fight the Hennings.
I play Call of Duty with my kids three hours a night.
I still collect toys – albeit more expensive ones.
Mentally, I’m as immature as I’ve ever been and don’t have any real plans to change my ways now.
Unless we are talking about physically doing things, then that’s a different story. My brain might think I’m a teenager, but my body knows better.
At least twice a year I pull certain back muscles getting out of bed.
My hair (on my head, not the rest of my body) is (mostly) long gone. The hair on my face is turning gray. Wrinkles have formed near my eyes.
My schedule revolves around being near a bathroom at a certain time of the day.
If I don’t sit in a chair just right, I can’t walk properly for several minutes if not hours.
I wear glasses that help me see far AND near.
The good news is I’m still here to experience all of it — for better or worse.
Age also drives home the reality that life is precious. That’s probably the most important thing I’ve come to realize as I’ve done all these rotations around the sun, while watching family, friends, and even idols, die along the way.
Those moments definitely resonate deeper the older one gets.
When you are young and full of energy, you don’t think much about where you’ll eventually end up or how long you’ll be here. The end seems so far away that it’s easy to buy into the notion that we will live forever and nothing can kill us.
But that’s not how it works and the longer we are alive the more that harsh truth burrows it’s way into our brains. There is a point A and a point B and it doesn’t take long to travel life’s highway from start to finish.
It happens in a heartbeat.
One minute you are hanging with your friends at a keg party on the dumps without a worry in the world and the next minute you’re studying your 401(k) daily hoping there’s enough in there to retire.
I don’t know when a person crosses that invisible line in the sand and realizes they are mortal — I’m sure it’s different for everyone. But no matter who you are or what you do, it is inevitable that one day you’ll wake up and realize you are closer to the end than to the beginning.
And then you ask yourself, “How did that happen?”
The answer is easy: It’s called life.
And that’s what I’ll be celebrating this weekend. A life well lived (so far). Many years of family, friends, love, laughter, tears, triumphs, losses, ups, downs, and everything in-between.
Sometime this weekend I’ll be turning 50 and what does that mean?
A milestone for sure, but not a destination.
It’s just another date. Another day of the week.
And every day you wake up should be important.