Thank You For Your Birthday Wishes. Please Accept, As a Token of My Esteem, This Picture of a Puppy

He’s a Shih Tzu. His name is Roscoe. He’s my mother in law’s new pet. He’s adorable.



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.

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