Friday, April 30, 2010

The State of Things

It puzzles even my mother.  "I can't believe you're going to be 50", she exclaims, during my visit the other day.  Funny, I've been mumbling that to myself for the past several months.  I usually don't get worked up about birthdays, especialy my own.  Some prefer to call attention to it my throwing a party for themselves.  I think Donna's son, Preston, celebrated with a week-long party this year.  Some encourage their friends to organize the festivities.  I've preferred to keep it low-profile.  Honestly, most days it seems pretty much like any other day.

Is hitting the half-century mark different?  I'm not sure.  Last year, Donna surprised me with an out-of-town trip, which included a couple of Indians game, an NHL playoff-game, and all the microbreweries I could hit in a weekend.  I'm not sure how that one could be topped.  It was a fantastic trip, but I felt a little embarrassed that she went to all that trouble.  (I tried to reciprocate later in the year for her birthday, but she since she controls the purse-strings, I wouldn't have been able to surprise her.)  For the most part, since my mother mentioned that to me, I've probably been a bit more depressed about hitting the big 5-0.

I've never worried all that much about my age.  I've always felt that adding to antiquity is a good thing.  Even as a teenager, I was always attracted to older women.  What woman doesn't think Sean Connery looked better in Medicine Man than he did in any of the Bond films!  Why, some of the best barleywines I've ever had have been popped open after having lived in a cellar for a year or more!  Aged cheddar, cured ham, old wood floor-planks...hell, an old bathtub from some 1920's hotel fetches top-dollar at a salvage yard!  I've never worried about my hair or beard turning gray.  I always thought it was pretty cool.  And I never understood guys becoming angst-ridden over losing their hair.  Bald is beautiful, which explains why I break out the Headblade every summer!

For me, I think it's more philosophical.  What are the state of things in my life, now that I've reached 50?  Did I achieve anything of note?  Did I accomplish anything that I set out to do?  Those are big, looming questions that may take another 50 years to answer.  I'm not sure what will transpire next.  I'm not even sure what my aspirations are for the next half-century, besides staying alive and one day hoping the Indians hoist a World Series trophy.  Although it's difficult, I'm trying not to immerse myself in regret over the things I either haven't been able to accomplish yet or haven't had the temerity to try.  And if I spend an inordinate amount of time, as I have the last several months, thinking back on events and astonishing myself over how long ago they occurred, I'll drive myself nuts.  So if I throw any festivities this year, I choose to celebrate the things that I have had the opportunity to do, the talents that I have been able to express, and the testicular fortitude to make some decisions that sometimes involve risk or being scorned or ridiculed:

I celebrate the fact that after not having a whole lot of success in the girlfriend-arena, I was able to meet my wife.

I celebrate being in a large family, having a twin brother, being given all of the things that we needed growing up, and having both parents alive and in relatively good health.

I celebrate not being abused, neglected, or physically or psychologically injured as a child. (ok, I could address some of the after-effects of a Catholic upbringing, but perhaps we'll leave that for an alternate post.)

Even though I've been perpetually "husky", I celebrate having the opportunity to try to keep myself in decent shape. (now if I just utilized that opportunity more...)

Since laying in bed at night as a kid and knowing that I wanted to emulate those voices who came out of my Philco transistor radio, I celebrate the chance to do what I've wanted to do, career-wise.

Although I shudder at the mere mention of a yellow Ryder truck, I celebrate having been able to live and work in different parts of the country. 

Even though it's not Key West, I celebrate the chance to live near my family again and reconnect with a few old friends.

Have I already lived the best years of my life?  I'm not sure.  Is there another list of goals that need to be achieved in the next 50 years?  I'm not sure about that, either.  If my latest attempts at zazen have taught me anything, it's that the past and the future are inconsequential.  That's easily said, but difficult to realize.  Perhaps I'll come to terms with it within this next half-century.  But tonight, I'm going to enjoy my birthday present, which is a seat at Canal Park to watch the Akron Aeros play the Binghamton Mets.  Next to me will be Donna and a chilly Dortmunder Gold.  The temperature should be mild and the weekend is ahead.  Except for the Cavs winning Saturday, I can't think of a better gift.


Image: Francesco Marino /

Image: graur razvan ionut /


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