Well, I’m no longer in my “early fifties,” I’m smack dab in the middle of them, and of middle age. And you know what? So far, at least, my fifties have been terrific. I’m very definitely in the part of my life where I am comfortable with who I am and what I’ve done with my life, professionally and personally. I’m very definitely a known quantity. If you like me or my work, you can reasonably be assure that you will continue to do so for a while yet. If you don’t, well, it’s not going to get better for you anytime soon.

I’m also at the point where I pass the “Bus Test,” which is “If you were hit by a bus today, would you feel like the life you lived had value?” And I do: I’m nowhere near perfect, of course, and to essay my many flaws would take up much of the day. For all that, I think overall I’ve been a good husband, father and friend, I’ve done work to make my communities, nation and world better, and I’ve worked on myself to be a mostly decent human. Plus, lots of books and other work in other media, which will likely live past me for some indeterminate amount of time. It’s been a good life, and I’m glad I’ve gotten enough life to gain the wisdom to recognize this fact.

(To be clear, not planning on being hit by a bus any time soon — indeed, living where I do, I would have to go well out of my way to be hit by one. I have lots of future plans, which require me remaining alive for at least a while longer. That is the plan, and to the best of my ability, I am sticking to it.)

I don’t love everything about being in my 50s. Most of that is physical — a twinge in my knee, my back getting sore from how I was sleeping, the steadfast refusal of my body to stop being pear-shaped, and so on — but some of it is existential, like driving down the road earlier this week, enjoy the lovely spring weather and having some part of my brain casually wonder, wow, how many more springs are you going to get? Shut up, brain, let me focus on the moment. Realistically speaking I have lots of springs left, and I plan to enjoy them all.

But overall? Again, life is good. I like, on my birthday, reflecting that it is so. I will continue to do the work of being trying to be a better person each day, and writing good work, and being a kind and useful friend and spouse and parent. And soon enough I’ll be 55.

— JS

(Photos above by Athena, by the way.)

50 Comments on “54”

  1. You forget the prophesy from the Heathrow Eastercon where you were guest of honour… its not going to be a bus, it’s going to be a polar bear.

  2. Happy birthday and welcome to the knee twinge club. For me after-50 has turned out to be fantastic and just keeps getting better. Note: increased maintenance is involved but it’s worth the effort.

  3. Happy birthday!

    You and my wife share a birthday, a fact which gives me unending amusement since she banned your name from our household for a while (I tend to go a little overboard when I find new things I really like).

  4. Happy Birthday! I loved my 50s, twinges aside, and am now learning to love my 60s (many more twinges, but, all in all, the nurses are surprised my blood pressure is in the normal range so there’s lots to be thankful for!) Like you, I feel if I had to shuffle off this mortal coil today, I’d be content, but, damn, this world is beautiful and I sure would enjoy seeing many more springs to come! Many happy returns and I hope you enjoy the day, the year, and the rest of your 50s! Athena did a great job on the photos!

  5. Happy birthday! I haven’t passed the bus test myself, maybe the bus quiz? Always a good idea to keep on striving to be a good human, hope your day is a particularly nice one 😊

  6. Hippo Birdies 2 U!

    54? Pfft! You are yet but a sweet summer child….

    Now you’ve got the image of you wandering around looking for a bus to hit you living rent-free in my head. 🤪

  7. Happy Birthday and enjoy many more! Life is a gift that should be fully embraced.

  8. Life would be safer without buses!

    No one could get hit by them, or thrown in front of them.

    (jk. Public transport makes life a lot easier for a lot of people)

  9. Happy happy, youngling. There’s still a lot more life left. But yeah, I feel ya. Tell the kiddos today that it’s possible to sleep “wrong” and they won’t believe ya. I know your futures, you little scoffers, and that’s what makes me smile.

  10. Happy Birthday!

    If you feel that way now, wait and see what 74 feels like. (It’s actually pretty good, especially considering the alternative.)

  11. Happy Birthday. May you and your family continue to celebrate and enjoy each other for many years.

  12. Happy Birthday! You young whipper-snapper.
    Another orbit of the sun complete.

  13. I am a couple of years younger than you, but feel similarly about myself and my stage of life. It’s a good feeling!

    Happy birthday to you!

  14. “If you don’t, well, it’s not going to get better for you anytime soon.” hahahahaha

  15. Now you’ve got the image of you wandering around looking for a bus to hit you living rent-free in my head.
    In a hospital gown with your butt sticking out…

  16. My aged parents once participated in some event where they were asked what decade of their life was the best. They both said their 50s. That was interesting because my father was 10 years older than my mother, so those were different decades.

    That’s promising, John. Enjoy it.

  17. Hmm, I could swear I was reading the “50” post last year. I suppose that may be pandemic time dilation. Or just me perhaps.

    All the best regardless, and carry on.

  18. Happy Bday!

    Mid-fifties seem so long ago… But that time in my life was not particularly pleasant. I’m glad it’s doing you well and you’re enthused to keep healthy and keep on going for a good time yet.

    Yes, the number of Springs I expect to see is much fewer than it once was, but I’m both healthier and happier now than I was then. Life is good! … Always move forwards!


  19. Many happy returns, John.

    I pre-ordered Starter Villain the other day. Looking forward to it!

  20. Hey there, happy birthday! May you enjoy many more for decades to come.

  21. Happy birthday!

    Daddy (God rest) said that fifty is nifty, and 55 was fine. Any year that you’re still alive and well is good.

  22. Happy Birthday! I can join you in the “bring on the bus club” — not done yet, but mostly happy with the results so far. I’ve been surprised by how much easier life has been in my middle age, in spite of all the curveballs thrown at us in the past 10 years. Sincerely hoping it continues to improve, or at least the world holds off its inevitable demise until I’m gone.

    I will be disappointed if there isn’t cake.

  23. Hippy Birdday you old fart ;) I’ll be warming up the mid 60’s for you at the end of the summer so it won’t be a cold shock for you later ;)

  24. Happy belated birthday, here’s hopes for many more. I keep learning things when I visit this site, like the bus test. Who knew? Best wishes.

  25. Isn’t it weird being the same age as old people? For reference you are 157 days younger than me.

%d bloggers like this: