I was born fifty years ago today.
I don't look any different (than yesterday.) I don't feel any different. Today does not represent some huge existential crisis for me. I don't mind turning fifty. Why should I? I have a successful career and am on the threshold of another. I have a Darling Spouse and healthy grown children. I have a roof over my head and food (sometimes too much) on my table. I have my health. So what's the big deal about "the big five-oh"?
A day isn't very long. Nor is a week, or even a month, and now even the years seem shorter. The divisions of time as we measure it may be arbitrary, but as I look back I suddenly realize that fifty years is a long time.
The 60s were the years of my childhood, memories faded into sepia even as Kodachrome was coming into vogue.
The 70's, an era now ridiculed for shaggy hair and bad music, were my coming-of-age.
The 80's were my training. Dominated by medical school and residency, I still managed to get married, buy a house, have three children and grieve the loss of my mother.
The 90's were supposed to be the building years of my thirties. I built my practice, but the marriage failed and I found myself flung into the chaos of adult singlehood.
The Aught's (or whatever we're calling this zero decade) have been my forties. It's been a time of great change that frankly I could never have predicted. Finding Darling Spouse was one of the kindest blessings the universe could ever have offered. My kids are great; not fully grown, but fun, wonderful people well on their way to making it on their own in the world. Ten years ago I had a cat; now I have four, not to mention a tiny, paraplegic dog. And now the chance for a new career as an author when it is only in this decade that I began calling myself a writer.
The world has changed in so many ways. Far be it from me to launch into a history of all the political and scientific changes over fifty years, but however you look at it, fifty years is a long time.
If I live to be 100, then I am entering the second half of my life; if not, then I have already had more than half my allotted time on the planet. None of that feels important. Whatever I do today is what matters. Whatever tomorrow brings, I will face it then.
Still, just this once, I look back and treat myself to the thought that fifty years is a long time.
I confess that I've always loved birthdays and enjoy making a big deal out of them. In our culture, though, it is unseemly for adults to do so -- except for birthdays that end in zero and some that end in five. Therefore I am looking forward to having an excuse for making a big deal.
Today I am fifty. What am I going to do now?
I'm going to Disney World.