45

Photo by Athena Scalzi

The way I figure it I am pretty much at the half-way point in my life. I don’t mean that in a morbid or pity-seeking way, I should note. I mean in the sense of knowing who I am, my family history, and various other factors, that if I do basic medical maintenance, keep fit, and don’t fall down stairs or walk in front of a bus, I have a pretty solid chance of making it to about 90 or so. So, 45 years down, 45 years to go. Here I am, in the middle. Time for a halftime report.

And the halftime report is, quite honestly, pretty good. When I was younger, my professional life goals were to be a working writer and author; I am those things, and successfully so. The one writing award I daydreamed of winning when I was still mostly a reader was the Hugo Award for Best Novel; I have one of those behind me on the bookshelf. People have taken words I’ve written and put them on t-shirts, quoted them to friends, and included them in their wedding vows. Whether anything I’ve written will survive into posterity is something I will let posterity worry about; today, people seem to enjoy what I do. That’s pretty cool.

My life is filled with friends who I like and love, and enough of them that my genuine concern is that at this point I don’t let them know how much I like and love them. This is especially a concern because, due to the way my life works, the time I get to see many of my friends these days is when I am at a convention or conference or otherwise traveling, when my attention is pulled in fourteen different directions at once and it’s difficult to find those quiet moments just to be people with each other. Nevertheless, I look at the people I consider my friends and I am amazed that I get to know such good folks.

And then there is my family, my wife and my daughter. I could go on about them forever. If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know that I will, at the drop of a hat. It’s only because I know how unfathomably blessed I am to have them, and to be with them, every day of my life. I make sure every day of that life, they know how I feel, and that I work to be worthy of them and the life we get to have together.

And as for me, as me: Well, I am both imperfect and a work in progress, as are we all. It’s not for me to decide whether I am a good person or not — that I will leave to others. What I will say is that I try to be what I see as the ideal version of me. And that person is, simply, not afraid. Not afraid to love, or to be kind. Not afraid to help or to support. Not afraid to speak out or seek justice. Not afraid of losing station or stature when others gain either. Not afraid to work on being better. Not afraid of the future. Just: Not afraid. I’m getting there, or at the very least, I like to think I’m moving in that general direction. I am imperfect and a work in progress, but I also like me. Which makes a difference in things.

With everything above, I would have to be willfully blind not to know how extraordinarily fortunate I have been in this life so far, or to think it all comes only from what I have done. I’ve had had to do my part, to be sure, and who I am has made a difference in things. But we are nothing outside our family and friends and time and circumstances. I am fortunate not just because of what I have done but because of what others have done, and have done for me. I recognize that I have the opportunity now to be to others what others have been to me. I consider myself genuinely fortunate to be able to pay it forward.

All of which is to say that at what I see as the halfway point in my life, I am happy. Happy for what has come before and for where I am. Happy to know who I know and what I know. Happy to have become the person I wanted to be when I was younger, and happy to be a person I like being, here and now. Which is a gift in itself, here on my 45th birthday.

To everyone I like and love, who has been part of making me who I am today: Thank you for the first half of my life.

Let’s see what happens next.

90 thoughts on “45

  1. Happy Birthday! Being at the ripe old age of 46 myself, I will probably not be reading your report at 90. I hope it’s a good one. :)

  2. Happy birthday, John!
    As someone who turned 46 in December, I’ll tell you something I realized. I may only have about half of my years left, but they’re going to be my best years. I, like you, am fortunate enough to have a beautiful family to spend those years with, though my boys are quite a bit younger than Athena (one is almost three, and the other is eight weeks). It’s also nice to not feel “middle-aged.” I don’t suspect I’ll feel that way until I’m at least 60. I hope you are feeling the same.

  3. 45. The 5th of the Triangular numbers.The 30th of the composite numbers: numbers n of the form x*y for x > 1 and y > 1. The 5th of the Hexagonal numbers: n*(2*n-1). The 10th of the “triprimes” or “3-almost primes” that are the product of exactly three (not necessarily distinct) primes. Oh, to be only 45 again…

  4. Happy Birthday! I turned 45 a few months ago. I know how ridiculously lucky I am in life with my family and my career. Unreal.

  5. Many happy returns, and returns as long as they’re happy.

    You may not be quite halfway there, though. I don’t really count the years before ten or so, since I wasn’t really consciously working on the “me” project until then. With that offset, you have another five to go.

    And, from my own experience, fifty-something was an absolute blast. Best decade so far, although 60-something is shaping up to be even better.

    Get back to us in 2029 and do please let us know if you agree.

  6. As I read this, I realized that this is what any status report is about – to be able to say you’re living the life you wanted to live! Congratulations to you, and I hope the second half is as wonderful as the first :)

  7. Statistically, it’s unlikely that I will still be around to read your report at age 90 but I’m sure others will enjoy it.

    I’m fascinated that you chose “not afraid.” I always assumed that you functioned off of some kind of native fearlessness, like the little girl character in the movie ROAN INNISH (sp?)… but it’s not; it’s actually courage. Good on you.

  8. Happy birthday, John. Beautifully written, as I would expect. May your second 45 be every bit as satisfying and rewarding!

  9. Happy Birthday, and many happy returns. For eight days you are the same age as I am (I turn 46 on the 18th).

    I notice that you share a birthday with your many-times-great-uncle John Wilkes Booth (1838). On the good side, you also share a birthday with Bono (1960).

  10. Happy birthday!

    I was unaware of the scalziverse until this past year and am very happy to have found your blog and twitter nest. You have entertained and informed me; for that I am grateful.

    Welcome, to the downward slope of the curve. The jokes tend to be stale but, it can be a sweet ride.

  11. May it be less than half! Happy birthday, and bright blessings (AIBYOW) for many, many more!

    BTW, as I understand these things, you have five years before people are allowed to call you an Old Fart without being insulting.

  12. Congratulations, felicitations, and all other (positive) “-ations” to you!
    May happiness and blessings dwell long in your house.

  13. Happy Birthday John, Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag. You don’t look too bad for halftime in more than one dimension.

  14. Happy Birthday from Tamora Pierce and I, John.

    45? Pshaw! You’re just a baby…. :)

  15. Dear John,

    A very happy B-Day to you. I may be able to give you a gift that will make you even happier than you are. The gift of more time!

    (subjectively)

    I don’t know anything about your youth, so maybe it won’t apply to you. But, this particular privileged white male’s life didn’t really start until he was 20. Because, up to that point, my life was tracking the path set by high school, college, and my parents’ and friends’ expectations. I wasn’t writing my own script. I was automatically and reflexively following someone else’s. It wasn’t my show.

    Oh yes, it was all training for that show. But my life, MY life didn’t really begin until the third decade. For me, that’s what counts.

    So, age 45? (which I’m a bit past) that’s not half of YOUR life gone, that’s one third. You’ve got **twice** as much self-scripted life ahead of you as you’ve lived already. Two more whole lifetimes-to-date to go.

    Your mileage may differ. Everyone’s will. But regardless of where you put the self-show-start point, you’ve got more ahead of you than behind, a lot more.

    Almost as importantly, your next full lifetime-to-date is likely to be a physically healthy one. For folks in our demographic, middle-age now runs until at least 70. Life can always throw you a medical curveball, but the odds favor the next 25 years of your own personal show being close to as comfortable, physically, as the first 25.

    At 45, it ain’t downhill from then on. Not even close.

    Here’s wishing that your next two lifetimes be as good as the first was.

    And, if that’s not sufficient, here are exquisitely fine cat pix (and commentary):

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/best-cat-pictures

    Cuz the inter-webs soooo needs more attention paid to cat photos.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  16. John, a heart felt congratulations on reaching the point in your life, where you are happy and content.
    You have mention the large number of good friends, and I am pleased that you have made them and been able to maintain the friendships over the years. to be connected to the larger world is important in many areas.
    You speak of seeing people, and having people over for the weekend and at conventions. Yet as I survey my dead end street there are very few strange cars in people’s driveways. I am not alone in saying that middle age is difficult to make new and maintain friendships, based on my street survey. You must be doing something different.
    What makes you unique in being a friend? Would you be as successful without your charming wife at your side? How many friends would you not if you did not have a child?
    This is a longer post for one of your more self reflective times.

  17. Okay, you’re only halfway, so how long before we see another book with Harry Creek? I’m at the two-thirds mark if your figuring is correct, so please pick up the pace!

    Seriously, Happy Birthday, John

  18. Ok, that was beautifully eloquent. Thank you. Now stop overthinking this and GO HAVE FUN!

  19. You are one lucky SOB. It would be intolerable if it weren’t for the fact that you recognize that and appreciate it. the fact that you are also very good at what you do is just a bonus for your reader. Happy Birthday

  20. Congratulations. Remember, you’re not middle aged yet unless you’re only planning on living until the age of 90.

  21. Happy Birthday, you youngster. It is weird when more and more of the authors I read go from being older than I am to being younger than I am. Thanks for the gifts of entertainment you bring us.

  22. Happy Birthday Mr Scalzi. I am happy for you because of the things you just mentioned. I am also 45 but fear I am not in as good a position as you are in most areas……and yet you inspire me to find my better self in the words you share.

  23. Happy birthday buddy. As always, my present to you is I haven’t posted that photo of you on the internet.

  24. Glad to hear your birthday is a good one. You ARE one of the good guys, incidentally.

  25. Happy Birthday John! You happen to share a birthday with my wonderful wife, Jeri, who happens to turn a lovely 56 today. Congratulations, very much enjoyed the halftime report.

  26. Happy Birthday Good Sir! I think the worst thing that can happen as one grows older is to quit having dreams to chase. Keep after ‘em!

  27. Happy Birthday John,
    As always you have a way of getting to the basics. I’ll turn 56 at the end of the month and am currently planning for carpal tunnel surgery and dealing with a partially dislocated shoulder. Yes it’s all a bit painful, but minor in comparison with how my life is going overall. I’m not where I planned to be at this age nor am I in the career path that I started on all those years ago. I have to believe that it’s turned out better than that. I never considered ever getting married and now my wife and I have been together fo almost 34 years. I think what best describes how I feel about my life as it is now is from L. Frank Baum.

    .’ ‘You are both rich, my friends,’ said Ozma gently; ‘and your riches are the only riches worth having – the riches of content!’ – The Marvellous Land Of Oz by L. Frank Baum pg 192 chapter 24”
    ― L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

  28. Happy Birthday, old thing. Er, I mean, thing in his prime, obviously. Not that you’re a thing. But you know what I mean.

  29. Happy Birthday, John! And congratulations on getting halfway there happy, healthy, and still looking forwards. :-)

    As one who is a touch further along the path, keep the engines trimmed and firing, keep enjoying the journey. The journey is the reward!

  30. Belated happy birthday and thanks for the puppy-picture! I hope you had a nice birthday with appropriate amounts of cake, pampering and song – whichever those amounts might be in your home.

  31. Grats, just 5 years from your first prostrate exam…

    You are handling the whole aging gracefully thing better than I am… I turn 40 in a couple of month. For the past couple of years I occasionally find my self googling ‘non-invasive prostate exam research’ and cross my fingers. Seriously dreading the turning 50 (its when doctors recommend guys start getting checked for prostate cancer). Aging guy illnesses are seriously gross and embarrassing to talk about.

    Just got reading glasses. I have not worn glasses since I was a little kid. The optometrist suggested ‘no line bifocals’, I said no and mentally said “bleep you for asking”. Talk about making a guy feel old. I might as well join the local shuffleboard if I get bifocals and then head out for a night of bingo.

    On another note, I have started taking care of myself better. One of the first signs that we are getting older happens when we move and all of a sudden something hurts and we don’t know why. Hate when that happens. I never exercised when I was younger. I have been working out consistently for the last 2 years. I eat alot healthier, do yoga, and try to take walks. The whole walking thing is why I like audio books so much. Taking walks is boring, but the books give me something to look forward to.

    Like you I have a sedentary desk job. Apparently new research says our lifestyle is as bad as smoking (I really hope that is BS or I’m screwed). I’ve been shopping around for adjustable standing desks so I can stand up.

    I just know someone 15 years older then me is going to reply ‘your life will suck worse kid when you are my age’. I hate when they do that.

    This was meant as a half joke/half gripe.

  32. Happy Birthday John! :-) Would have said so sooner but I’ve been out of town.

    For me, 45 was the springtime of my best Thursday years – by “Thursday” I mean Gentle Thursday, the best gelding-horse known in my whole life. The wife named the boy after a Bill Martin’s poem, “Gentle, gentle Thursday.” Thursday died a few years back passing 31 by a fair bit (our years) and I miss him like yesterday, though I have joy in the memories too.

    Memories can be good. Whatever your future, you obviously have a fair few good ones now, and I’m happy for you.

  33. Happy birthday, John. I turned 50 the day before you turned 45, and so I’ll take that as license to wish you the best (despite the fact that we don’t know each other).

    Warning: I found the years between 45 and 50 to be the most challenging (so far). Your family and friends will help you through those. Continue to hold them close — you’ll need them!

    Cheers.

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