Here’s What I Said to Everyone at My 50th Birthday Party
Wisdom from a newly-minted quinquagenarian.
“Two weeks ago I came up with the perfect thing to say on this occasion, but I failed to write it down and now, being fifty, of course I forgot.
“Already, I’m using sticky notes for everything.
“I think my body knows I’m fifty but my brain and my heart remain blissfully unaware. I’ve already had my first arthritis related surgery and last week the eye doctor proscribed two sets of eyeglasses. I’m getting regular injections in my knee and there’s more my hair growing in my ears than on my scalp, but I still feel strong and I’m told I look pretty fit. Last month, I moved over five thousand pounds of crushed stone into the vegetable garden by myself, so I can’t be too far gone, although, technically, I was in my forties when I did that. And it did take a full week to recover. And a lot of ice. But generally all is physically well. Or well-ish. Well enough.
“Looking back, now I’m beginning to see that my childhood and college experiences were probably pretty standard, except for maybe all the gay stuff. Still, it was definitely the subsequent decades that were stuffed with my most prized realizations and accomplishments, my significant failures and deceptions, and the highs and lows that build a life. And now, even most of those kinetic years may be behind me, but I hold a profound appreciation for all of the experiences, the cutting losses, and the crazy luck of knowing tremendous love. I suppose all of this is also pretty standard, too, even if it feels entirely unique to me.
“My nephew says, ‘minutes are slow and hours are fast, days are long but weeks are short, months plod along and years slip by.’ He’s eighteen and he already knows this, and now I’m half-a-century old and I’m just starting to learn that—wait, hold up—(gulp) I’VE BEEN ALIVE FOR HALF A CENTURY?!!”
[there’s laughter and groans from my guests here, sprinkled with a few ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ sobs and some joyful expletives]
“Because fifty years is a long time!! Right?! The internet didn’t exist until I graduated college and it took more than another decade for the first iPhone. But now I’m old enough to actually feel the the privilege of watching the world wake…