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.
(Photos above by Athena, by the way.)