I am 50 years old today. What an odd sentence to write and even more awkward one to speak. I suspect I am in good company with those who have achieved this milestone but in this moment I feel alone in the experience. 50 years, 18,270 days, 438,480 hours, 26,308,800 seconds and an incalculable number of moments. What have I achieved? Where have I devoted my time energy and treasure? What have I neglected or misplaced along the way? Those who know me, will have no trouble imagining my thrashing with the deeper questions of this event. I am, perhaps to my own detriment, vulnerable to the chaos of my own mind and its insatiable need for deciphering the mysteries of life. I will be preoccupied with turning 50 for quite some time. But I wanted to share a few reoccurring thoughts which have distracted me for a few months leading up to this day.The first is that it is no longer possible to ignore that, even with the most positive of outcomes, there are fewer years ahead than there are behind. Excluding any breakthroughs in medical science I feel the sand in the hourglass shift as it prepares for the finality of its purpose. Time is an increasingly more valuable treasure than it was in my youth. My tolerance for its waste diminishes while my passion for getting meaningful things done explodes upward. The specter of time has an urgency which is new. I say “no” to more things than I used to with a refreshing lack of guilt. I am learning to spend time on things that truly matter and less on a collection of “to-do” lists.Legacy and the things I am preparing to leave behind drives me now. Material possessions are the least interesting in this category. Leading the pack are the people I have impacted and the lessons I have taught. Was I wise or full of vanity? Did I give my two beautiful and remarkable children enough of myself to last them in the years to come? Will they pass their father’s voice into their children? How long will my story continue to be written? Will I be remembered at all? I know these are morbidly self-absorbed thoughts but perhaps I am permitted to linger here for a bit while I still have time to make life changes or correct past mistakes.50 days ago I woke up to a surprise from my wife. On the table was a letter from her to me with words of love, respect, appreciation and desire. It was the most beautiful of love notes but it also had a curious notation of #1 on it. The next day I received another note with the #2 on it. Every day leading to today a new note. 50 letters that have created a tapestry of love, wit, humor, passion and kindness. These simple numbered envelopes and their occupants have has affected me in ways I cannot adequately express.Such a treasure gives me encouragement that perhaps I have done alright in this life after all. When someone as extraordinary as my lady can feel enriched and contented with me that says something big. She even managed to slip in a few “bonus” letters and some from my children. What an amazing gift that will endure long beyond trinkets. This is a high water mark for any man. I taunt you young bulls to do better.Let me close this out with yet another pitiful attempt at poetry.
50 years have gone away yet volumes of phrases await their say.Deeds, chores and mundane tasks, compete with dragons along the paths.Unsatisfied debt awaits to be paid and lurks in shadows poised and set.Shall I slumber away in the resting sun or rise anew with the dawn’s fresh light?I claim not the words from him who wrote, but placed inside my own hearts rote.“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.”