So come tomorrow morning I turn 45 or as I have been joking (maybe half-joking) that I will be halfway to 90. I do not know where I came up with that line but there it is. My friend Brad commented today, "When I turned 40, I knew I was playing the back nine." I think he is right.
When you are a kid, birthdays mean presents, cake and fun. When you are a teenager, every year brings another right or privilege until the big one (for some) 21. After that, well there is the slow movement towards middle age. I think it is fair to say that whether I like it or not, I am there.
We live in an interesting world. We celebrate youth and take notice of when someone young does something impressive. Just this past weekend, a 19-year-old won the John Deere Classic. Perhaps the most famous young person was the election of John F. Kennedy as President. When he was assassinated, he was forever frozen in time, the, "young man in the White House." James Dean's death took on extra dimensions of iconic status because he died so damn young.
I recall years ago reading the book, Logan's Run. The story, set in the future, involved a world where death at 21 was required, called sleep. If you rebelled, you were a runner. Enter the Sandmen. More than a police officer, a state-sanctioned executioner whose job was to kill those who ran with a weapon that caused horrific pain. One of the characters was Ballard, someone whose time crystal in his hand did not signal his time to die. He was the "old man" at 42, a double lifetime. Well, I'm past even that double lifetime.
As I type this, I cannot put my finger on exactly what I feel about being halfway to 90. Of course, I look back and think about opportunities I missed, things I did not pursue, choices made. Then I also realize that there is no going back, no do-overs. When you hit my age, you are likely to have someone younger than you that you report to, work for or at a minimum is a customer. For some people, the changes in technology have pushed people from a factory job to a new type of work that is far from what they knew before. That can be hard. I am fortunate to have a job I enjoy. Of course, my current supervisor is younger than me. So was the last one. Such is life.
There are any number of opinions about aging out there. "50 is the new 30!" "Grey is great!" Blah, blah, blah. The simple fact is tomorrow is a day that marks the beginning of my 45th year on this planet. (And thanks, by the way, Mom and Dad.) I am not going to worry too much about it and have every intention to enjoy the day, reflecting on my good fortune and all the wonderful people I have in my life. I will joke about being halfway to 90 and my friends will laugh, at least at first. However, I'd be lying to say that I will not be glad come Saturday morning to know that a birthday is a year away. I also know this morning will be a whole lot better than other day afters in the past. Maybe I'm growing up in other ways as well...
I also think that birthdays can be great milestones for what one wants to accomplish in the next year. I am working on getting better at goal-setting and this is something that I feel compelled to get serious about. After all, I'm not a kid anymore. More to follow on this subject.
Life is what you make it. There are countless stories of people (Col Sanders comes to mind) who did fantastic things later in life. There are men who are released from decades in prison and go on and create positive change in the world, redeeming their past ill deeds, ill deeds of reckless youth, I might add. I don't plan on opening a fast-food empire but I refuse to believe that I have less control over my future now than when I was 25 or 30. Truth be told, I like my life a whole lot more now than back then. As Brad said, I am on the back nine, but it is a real pretty course.
I'll close with a few lines from our friend Jimmy Buffett and his 1977 song, Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes.
"Oh, yesterday's over my shoulder
So I can't look back for too long
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can't go wrong."
I think that is about the best way to approach any day, birthday or otherwise. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!