Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Turning 50 Means to Me

Today, I'm turning fifty. The Big Five Oh! I always imagined it would be a momentous day, a milestone of sorts.

Turning twenty was such a milestone. It was then that I finally accepted that I was an adult. It wasn't all joyous. I joked that it was my mid-life crisis. I loved being a teenager in the prime of my life. Twenty didn't mean I had grown old, but it did mean I had grown older. My twenty-year-old brain figured old would come later, say, when I turned fifty.

Turning 50. Fire hazard?
In some respects, the fifty milestone is exactly what I expected. I'm grateful to be alive and acutely aware that a half-century of life lay behind, rather than in front, of me.

The fifty mile-marker comes with some costs. Things don't work as well now as they did years ago. Joints creak and pop. Muscles complain. The brain learns more slowly and forgets more frequently. Hair goes gray or goes away. And eyes refuse to focus on anything within two feet of them.

But the milestone also comes with some perks. My two children and three grandchildren are perks most priceless. I've accumulated fifty years worth of wisdom. I have a home and a good job with great coworkers.

I'm not old enough to have gone mountain climbing with Moses or talk about the weather with Noah, but I did see the end of the Vietnam War, the Berlin Wall come down, Challenger explode, Watergate unfold, President Reagan shot and all 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis. I saw the rise and fall of disco, CB radios, and Netscape Navigator. I witnessed the birth of Nasdaq, MTV, Microsoft, the first test-tube baby and a cloned sheep named Dolly. I saw pocket calculators, personal computers, cell phones and the internet itself invented--not all by Al Gore. :-)

I experienced the bliss of finding the perfect wife and the inconsolable anguish of losing her. Maybe that's what it took for me to finally accept that flesh and blood are not immortal.

Please be safe!
I've seen a lot, done a lot, survived a lot. I've achieved successes and learned from failures. Thanks to modern medicine, I've even defied death.

So, as expected, turning fifty is still a milestone. Yes, in some ways I really do feel old, but in other ways, not so much. I've learned to cherish not only each birthday, but every day. They're all gifts we're not guaranteed to receive.

Turning fifty means I'm alive. And come bliss or heartache, I'll accept that gift and keep living it as best I can.

50 comments:

  1. I am a little older than you, but similarly grateful for every day. And, if a time machine were available, the one time I would NOT go back to is my teenage years. Despite bits of me not working as well, (or not at all) I am much more comfortable in my own skin and the anxt is much less. And expended for more worthwhile things.
    Hugs. Happy Birthday (to a fellow Capricorn), and a wonderful year to come.

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    1. We Capricorns are a cool lot, yes? And a wonderful year to you too!

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  2. I'm not that far behind, and remember most of those things. The rest made me *sniffle* because it is oh-so-true. You are a hero to me, for I'm not sure I could have the grace which you faced a heart shattering death.

    Not to mention, you love dragons :)

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    1. Thank you, but I'm so *not* a hero. While I have honestly tried my dead-level best to be brave and cope, the turmoil inside is constant not easily tamed. Nothing will ever again be quite as sweet or fulfilling without her.

      And yes, I'm a dragon lover and proud of it! :-)

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  3. Happy birthday! I hope you enjoy it.although I imagine it will be somewhat marred xx
    I hit 50 this year as well and resonated with virtually everything you've written.
    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe
    x

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne. The oddest thing is none of the milestone years--30, 40, 50--have come close to triggering the trauma that 20 caused me. I guess that's a good thing, right?

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  4. Very thought provoking post. I hope that you find on looking back that you've had a life well lived, and that you'll continue to do so in the coming years.

    Have a blessed 2014!

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    1. I suppose every life a few regrets, but I am content. I've made some good decisions and choices over the years. Life has been very good to me, despite the heartaches.

      Happy New Year!

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  5. 50 Jeff? You're still wet behind the ears to Matt and I. Hope you have a happy birthday. A Happy New Year as well.

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    1. As long as I'm wet behind the ears and nowhere else! :-) The birthday was pretty good, all things considered. Family and friends make all the difference.

      Enjoy your new year, Jo. Tell Matt that this is the year he may lose his title. Dwarf tossing champions never stay down for long. :)

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  6. Happy Birthday! While the body does fall apart a bit as we grow older, the other benefits outweigh that. I would never go back to being a teenager. I find being 'middle age' to much fun, and way to interesting, despite the aches and pains. Here's to a long and satisfying life!

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    1. Ah, but to have the benefits of fifty years worth of experience in a teenager's body? I think I could handle that. You know what they say about youth being wasted on the young. :)

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  7. Happy birthday, Jeff. I hit it next year, so I too remember those things. I imagine hitting that milestone will feel about the same for me.

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    1. Most likely, Alex. May you have a great one.

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  8. Happy Birthday, Jeff. I've seen all those things, too, and a little more. Despite all those experiences, the greatest experience of my life was witnessing the births of my three daughters. Nothing compares to that joy.

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    1. So very true. Nothing really can compare with that.

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  9. Enjoy your 50th today. Mine is coming later this year, and I hear what you're saying loud and clear.

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    1. I hope you have a great one, Terry. It's an achievement.

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  10. Happy Birthday! At this moment you're almost exactly thrice my age. Here's to a "better" year, I guess you could say. Oh, and you should change your age in the sidebar.

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    1. I take comfort in knowing that I shall not be thrice your age much longer. Enjoy that youth! I'll make a note to change the sidebar. :)

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  11. Happy 50th Birthday Jeff! Hope this year brings many blessings and less heart aches.

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    1. Thanks, Jaybird. May the coming year bring you much joy!

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  12. Congratulations, Jeff. I'm a little older than you, so let me assure you it gets even better. There's a lot of perks with getting older. I love the perspective it gives you, and the increased appreciation for things that I see you have already develooped. Happy Birthday

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    1. It's a little sad that so many years are required before we can truly appreciate those things. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  13. Happy birthday! You've witnessed so much in just those first fifty years. Glad you're able to find a way to cherish each birthday! Hope this day goes great for you, and that all of 2014 does, too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Heather. I sometimes forget that many around me haven't witnessed the same things.

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  14. I turn 50 in 2014 as well. I'm looking forward to it and will celebrate with style. It's been a year for you Jeff-- you touch my heart with your love and courage. May this year bring you blessings you can't even anticipate.

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    1. I thank you, Julie. 2013 would have been completely unbearable had it not been for folks like you and the literally hundreds who offered me such compassion and support. In that regard, I was one of the most blessed persons of last year.

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  15. I won't turn 50 for more than 10 years from now, but I witnessed a lot of what's on your list, too. Even my body is starting to wear down and not function as it should. I'm trying to reach that place of life appreciation, already because why wait to learn something when you can learn it now! Thanks for imparting your wisdom and have as fabulous a birthday and New Year as possible. :D

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    1. Wisdom is not only experience, but also a choice and mindset. Sounds like your "thirty-something" self is well on the way to acquiring more. May your wisdom and enjoyment grow with each passing year.

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  16. Hi Jeff,

    Ah, my young friend, I almost remember 50 :) You have so much gratitude in your gentle heart. It resonates within your words. A lot has happened, for sure. I'm old enough to remember the day TV went from black and white to living colour.

    Happy belated Birthday, my fine friend.

    And welcome to 2014.

    Gary

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    1. Gary, you were part the generation that had to get up to change the television channel too! (That lack of exercise must be the root of our weight gain.)

      Gratitude is essential for happy living. Thanks for the welcome into the new year, friend. May it treat us both with favor.

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    1. Thanks, Deb! One more thing to add to my list of what I've survived! :)

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  18. Happy Birthday, Jeff! AND, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

    i know this holiday must have been hell for you. But you did survive and turned 50.You do have many happy years ahead with you loving children and grand children. Family is so important. I lost mine, so i know how it feels to go through the holidays without family and it is always sad for me...

    But thankfully I have my extended family and they get me through each year.

    FUNNY... I felt the exact same way at 20.... I thought I was alone feeling that way. Most kids can't wait to hit 21 ... I was on top of the world and 19 and I never wanted it to end, But it did and each year flies by faster than the year before.

    I hope 2014 is a year filled with love, health, and happiness...

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    1. Each year certainly does fly by faster than the one it follows. Oddly enough, I noticed that during my senior year of high school. Faster and faster it goes...

      The holidays were indeed difficult. I suspect they always will be. You know as well as I that it's painful when love survives the loved. I suppose that's the beauty behind loving so many. The love they return provides the balm we need to continue forward.

      I too wish your 2014 is your best and happiest year yet.

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  19. Half a century under your belt. Wonder what will happen in the next fifty. At the rate things keep changing we'll all be living on the moon (although I'll settle for jet packs).

    Happy birthday!

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. Jet packs would absolutely be cool! There are mornings I'd pay good money for a Federation transporter too. :)

      Thanks!

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  20. Such a great post Jeff! I have six more years until I hit that milestone, but I've already noticed the light plays tricks on things while I'm reading and I have to turn things just so to be able to read the small print. In many respects, I am more content now than I was at twenty. I now understand that what I used to think were problems were mere annoyances and that the things I never thought I could live through...I did. Forty-year-old me has a better appreciation and much better understanding.

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    1. Sounds to me like your forty-year-old self is wise. I know I've benefited from your wisdom these past months more than you probably realize. I can honestly say that up until last July, I had become more content than ever before. In time, I may even get there again, providing I continue heeding the counsel of a certain sage Seckman. :)

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  21. Turning 50 is a HUGE deal. Well, it was for me, anyway. It sounds like you have your head screwed on right, and that through what is probably as momentous birthday as being old enough to drive, vote, or hit the bars.

    Turning 50 makes you slow down and truly savour the life you have built for yourself. Suddenly time isn't for wasting anymore. It's for doing what you love and being with the people who love you.

    Happy birthday, Jeff. May you have many, many, many more.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. Fifty is a rather big deal. Time really does become more precious over the years. And nothing beats doing what you love and being with the ones you love. Have a great 2014, Cathy!

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  22. Sending you a belated Happy Birthday, Jeff. Fifty is a huge milestone. Such wise words. Above all what shines out is your love for Myra, your family, and the overwhelming joy that can be found in life when we choose to accept it. A beautiful post.

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    1. Thanks, Ellie! A lot happens in fifty years. I'm thankful I had Myra for almost thirty of them. I consider myself fortunate to have recognized what I had with her before I lost it. It made me appreciate her so very much. As John Crichton told Pilot, "Everything begins with family."

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  23. I'M LATE!!! happy belated!!! you don't look a day over 30 so just go with it and nod your head!

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    1. I know how to spot folks who graduated from the school of flattery, but thanks anyway! ::nodding and going with it:: :)

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  24. I'm belated, too (darn hiatus). Happy Birthday, Jeff.
    I can relate to a lot of things in your post. I'm not far behind you. ;)

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    1. My hiatus has been longer than I expected. I'm still not ready to say I'm back just yet, but I've tried to make a post each month or so to let folks know that I'm doing okay. And thanks for the happy birthday wish. Prepare yourself for some interesting 50th birthday cards. Most of mine were hilarious.

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  25. Hello Jeff, thanks for your blog! I decided to google 'turning 50' and voila, your blog came up and I decided to read about your adventurous life before turning 50! I too turned 50 in December (19th), 2013, as well....but I did not want to spend my birthday in London, where I live, so what did I do? I took a trip to Africa, with my son and I am so glad I did! I did not want people making a fuss about me turning 50, so I was glad it was a low-key event. As far as I can see or feel, I do not feel any different from 49 or 48, etc. I am still the same old me. Yes, it is true that the body does not work as well as it used to when I was in my 30's or 20's, but hey, that's part of getting older. As the saying goes, 'you are as young as you feel!' So there you go, hope you'll have a blessed year throughout 2014, being 50! Guess what? I am dreading the 51 years, coming in December! Take care & God bless.

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    1. And I in turn wish you a grand year of enjoying 50. We've seen a lot, been through a lot and we're still kicking! Maybe not quite a high as we were kicking a few years ago, but we ARE still kicking. :) I will admit to a tiny bit of envy; a trip to Africa is quite the adventure and a great way to celebrate. May your next 50 be even better than your first 50.

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