I turned 50 today. There’s a solidity to that number, a reality that’s impossible to deny. Maybe that’s because fifty is half a hundred. Maybe that’s because five uses up all the fingers on one hand. Maybe that’s because five is a troublesome number in the Tarot. Maybe something else.

When I turned 40 I wrote in my journal “I still don’t think of myself in a significantly different way than I did when I was 22.” At 50, injuries and weight gain have stopped my running, I take daily medication for acid reflux, I need glasses to read, my beard is mostly white and the hairline that started receding in my late 20s is now racing backward.

I can’t kid myself any more – I’m getting old. Oh, I can still do almost anything I want, but not as fast or for as long, and recovering takes longer. Sometimes a lot longer. There are a few things on my “bucket list” I need to do soon, before age diminishes my capabilities too much further. The youthful illusion of immortality is pretty much gone.

But when I move beyond physical aging there is much to like about 50. Ten years ago I was still trying to find a path – today I’m well down that path with a firm direction for the future. Ten years ago I had figured out that more stuff wouldn’t make me happy but I didn’t know what would – today I do. Ten years ago Cathy was pretty much my only friend in Texas – today I’m part of a growing community that shares my values.

Part of me wishes I had gotten here sooner. But one of the benefits of being 50 is the wisdom to realize that I had to go through what I went through to get from where I was to where I am. And I firmly expect that experience will serve me well as I move on towards 60, 70, and beyond. I know my path – I don’t know where it will lead or what I will encounter on the way.

To my family of blood: you gave me my start and you instilled in me the resilience that keeps me going through difficult times. Thank you.

To my family of choice: you make the bad times bearable and the good times worth it all. Thank you.

To my family of spirit: you have shown the little boy who couldn’t believe what he was told he had to believe that there are many paths and on this one there is learning and integrity and depth and love. Thank you.

To Cathy: you hold me close but you never hold me back. I love you and I thank you.

It hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been a good fifty years.

Here’s to the next fifty.

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  • Happy Half Century Birthday John!

    You are now officially half-way towards being an antique. . . 😉

    Welcome to the club. 🙂

  • Ad multos annos, John–and speaking as someone who has more than a decade on you, I can tell you that 50 is the new 30. Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    The first century or so is the hardest … Happy Jubilee.