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47

47

I turned 47 yesterday.

I’ve loved my 40s. They’ve been the happiest years of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

That’s not to say I’m a happy person. My natural happiness set point is on the low side and I have a melancholic temperament. I tend to experience deeply the things in the present that aren’t as I’d have them. I find joy to be fleeting and often difficult to embrace.

But when I look back, I see the bigger picture: I’ve had a great run in my fifth decade. I’ve achieved emotional health. I’ve done really well in my career. I have developed hobbies that make my heart sing. I have built strong personal relationships, especially with my sons.

And I am optimistic for the future. Sure, I can see how my body is aging and my health is different now. I’m seeing younger people coming up fast in my career – I’m starting to work for people who were in diapers when I entered college. My prime is ending. But I expect to adapt and keep growing in maturity. I expect to find that to be supremely satisfying.

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Stories Told

My most enduring work

My dad turns 72 today. Since he retired about ten years ago, he has given his time and energy to several political and social causes in my hometown, where he still lives. He says that South Bend gave him so much after he moved there from West Virginia that he wants to pay it back.

I see this so often among men as they age – they want to make a big impact that can be their legacy. I’m starting to feel that myself, now that I’m well into middle age. I want there to be lasting evidence that I was here after I’m gone!

You can never predict what will last and what will be lost to the sands of time. I’m a twice-published author – and both books ended up remaindered and forgotten. I had my brief radio career, which brought very minor celebrity at the time, but let’s face it, who remembers part-time DJs from 20 years ago? And I’ve delivered successful project after successful project in my career, once even getting a standing ovation from a room full of customers. But I work in technology, where things move fast and last year’s hot stuff is this year’s old news.

What I’m standing next to in this photo might just be my most enduring work.

Me at WMHD

In college, I lived in the basement of a residence hall. Only four of the rooms down there housed students; the rest were used for storage, a laundry facility, a TV lounge, and the campus radio station. I was General Manager of that radio station, which is why I lived down there.

For most of those years, the basement hallway walls were depressing shades of brown. Toward the end of my junior year, I asked the Dean of Students if I could paint the walls in more cheerful hues. He not only said yes, but he also said he’d provide the paint and supplies.

I convinced some of the other basement dwellers to come back to school a week early at the end of summer and paint with me. We knocked it out in a few days.

That was in 1988. When my sons and I visited campus last fall for the annual homecoming bonfire, we visited the basement and, to my astonishment, found that paint job still looking as fresh and clean as the day we laid down our rollers and brushes 24 years before!

Do you have a story of something you’ve done that has unexpectedly endured? Tell about it in the comments, or write the story on your own blog and link back here!

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