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I am astonished that at my age I’ve remarried and am about to leave my longtime home to share a life with family I never knew I would have.

When I was younger, even through my late 30s, those who had lived a half century seemed so settled to me. Their lives, I was sure, had fallen into predictable grooves. I like predictability, and those I knew who had it wore it well. I looked forward to it in my own life.

On this day half my life ago

But who knew all of the adventures of the half-century mark? Of helping children step into their adult futures. Of having fully adult relationships with our parents. Of hitting our stride in our careers. And, given that so many divorce now, remarriage and new family.

Except that these things feel like adventures only when they’re going well. Some children stumble and fall, or even fail to launch. Our parents are aging — when is it time to stop driving? To find a retirement home? And on the job sometimes you watch someone younger than some of your children, with all the life experience that implies, move up fast and pass you by, and make mistakes you learned long ago not to make.

This stuff is incredibly hard! The blessing of this age is the resilience to handle these difficulties. If I had encountered them at half this age I would have needed a rubber room.

I turn 50 today. Joys and disappointments abound. Honestly, this year there have been more disappointments than joys. My wife and I have experienced some real difficulty with children, parents, and jobs. Point is, this age teaches that this is what life is. That youthful dreams of winning at life, of being a Master of the Universe, were never within reach. That all there is every day is enjoying the good while working through the bad. That God put people into our lives to love, and our best satisfaction in life comes from loving them with all our might.

I’m gathering my whole family at my home this afternoon. We’ll grill various bits of animal flesh, nosh on fresh veggies and sweets, drink gin and tonic, and just enjoy each other. My goodness, but do we like each other. I predict I’ll reach the end of this day satisfied.

I made this photograph when I was 42, and thought even as I made it that I ought to use it on this blog when I turned 50! It seemed so far off in the future that I wondered if I’d still be blogging then. Answer to my then-self: lol yup.

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Life

Half century

Who knew life at 50 could have so much going on? And some of it isn’t exactly pleasant. But one advantage of this age is the resilience to handle it.

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59 thoughts on “Half century

  1. Orlando Rivera says:

    Every day is new, and as you drive through your highways RT
    20,30,etc, the hitchhiker you’ve just given a lift to, his name is WISDOM. Ups and downs, happy or sad, fantastic and tragic, hey HAPPY BIRTHDAY on behalf of LIFE. Enjoy the road trip, have a great day.

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  2. Happy greetings and congratulations on reaching the half-century mark. Way ahead of you. The view from here can be bittersweet and lovely and a bit hazy all at the same time. As one of my favorite songwriters, Warren Zevon, remarked at the end of his life, “Enjoy every sandwich.”

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  3. Well congratulations on your milestone. I have found that actually turning 50 wasn’t as bad as later realizing that things you actually remember doing happened 50 years ago.

    Getting sandwiched between kids who are not quite self sufficient and parents who no longer are can be a drag, but then there are drags at every stage of life.

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  4. Jason Shafer says:

    Happy Birthday, Jim!

    In some ways being settled is fine, but in other ways being settled can allow a person to miss out on the many adventures that comprise life. So congratulations as you start a new round of adventures and in twenty years you can get a picture of an I-70 road sign!

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  5. totaylor@seidata.com says:

    You took this picture when you were looking ahead to be 50. It is a picture of downtown North Vernon – as it once was. Much of the section in the distance is now gone, victim to a fire that took down seven historic buildings in the middle of town. We often think ahead of what life will be like when we reach milestones, be they 50, 60, 70 or 80. Sometimes, however, when we reach them, they are different than we thought they would be. Most of us find the future to be different than we thought it would be. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is that we find that old ain’t as old as old used to be.

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  6. Heide says:

    “My goodness, but do we like each other.” That summed it up beautifully, Jim. Life is full of unexpected setbacks and challenges — and I’m sorry you’ve had your share over the past year. But I expect that the love you’ll feel when your family gathers this afternoon will remind you it’s all worth it. Enjoy your celebration, and congratulations on the big 5-0. I can hardly wait to see how you’ll grow in the next 50 years! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Something new: I can’t write about all these challenges. Even though these challenges affect me, they are stories that belong to other people, and sometimes other people who are related to me by marriage, not by blood. All sorts of new lines to redraw!

      And good lord I hope I don’t live to 100!!! In my family, mid-70s is more normal. And we’re pretty worn out by then!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heide says:

        I love your way of putting things, Jim: “These are stories that belong to other people.” That’s very insightful, and I’m sure those people appreciate your consideration and respect. As for longevity … well, you are an overachiever, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you exceed expectations on lifespan as well. But if you’re anything like me, it’s enough of a gift to simply be alive and healthy today. The future will take care of itself, yes? Well, here’s another toast to today — YOUR big day.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. DougD says:

    Congratulations, and welcome to the club. I too turned 50 in May.

    I celebrated 50 by taking a dozen of our close friends out for a really good dinner. I don’t grouse at all about turning 50 because a few weeks after that we went to a 49th birthday party for a friend dying of cancer, it was more like a farewell party. And now he is gone, and I have been blessed with life for another day. For all it’s issues, it’s still good to be here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Martin Cutrone says:

    Very well stated, Jim. I’m 57 and agree that being 50 is hard sometimes, but we hopefully have learned to enjoy the people and relationships in our life the best we can. We can enjoy this beautiful world we live in, and continue to try to picture it for others. The wisdom of experience and time allows a sense of peace that will hopefully make our 50’s a great decade. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

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  9. Well, happy 50th birthday. Now what did I do when I was 50 in 2003? I got married for the first time. Had my first child when I was 55. Watching my father as he heads past 91 and in pretty good shape. To be honest I didn’t notice 50 nor did I notice 60. I paid no attention. I just keep on doing what I do best at the practice and keep on doing what I enjoy during my free private time. Well, maybe a little though now as I was under a car this morning. Can I do it when I am 75 or 80? If I can roll along the ground then yes :)

    You’ll do fine!

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    • Given my grandparents’ and parents’ trajectories I think I’ll be doing great if I make it to 75! Honestly, all I want in old age is to be reasonably active and reasonably sharp.

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  10. This couldn’t be better timed. I turn 40 today and have been struggling some to reconcile where I am in life with where it seems I should be. You had no way of knowing this but I needed to read this today. Here’s hoping that we can find joy where possible and remember, even when it’s bad, this is what life is. What did the old song tell us? “Memories are made of this.” Happy Belated Birthday!

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  11. Sometimes things happen for a reason I think. I was ‘stumbling’ through ‘Reader’ looking for inspiration. It was the 50 in your road sign that caught my eye. Many years ago I was born in Salisbury, Md. The two main thoroughfares are 13 which goes north and south and 50 which goes east and west. 50 leads from Salisbury east to Ocean City, Md. At any rate it was the 50 on the sign that caught my eye, but it was the fine article that held my attention. It is a real mood lifter and a cause for hope on a day when the world seems so topsy turvy. So very much enjoyed!

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  12. Happy belated birthday. May I ask, where did this photo come from? It was the 50 road sign that caught my attention. I’m from the Annapolis, MD area and this photo looks like a setting in Annapolis. Loved your post. Sounds like you’re finding the meaning of life.

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  13. I saw this photo and immediately thought it looked like any one of 20 Midwestern towns I’ve either lived in or driven through, but certainly loved all the same. I’ve lived on or near US 50 for most of my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever be sorry. It’s home, as are the people I love. Beautiful post.

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  14. Great post! These are things I myself am pondering on as I approach the “half century mark” in a couple of years. I still can’t believe it, I feel like I’m still 30 :-)
    Sorry I missed this…Happy Belated Birthday Jim!

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