The Summer of My 50th Year
I am somewhat surprised to find that I turn 50 this week. Not because I didn't see it coming, but that I don't feel 50. Physically, I feel more like 35, although there are times when an odd pain intrudes and looking in the mirror is a sure-fire way to blow away that particular fantasy. But hey, a little grey hair is supposed to make men look distinguished, right? (my wife says "extinguished").
I still have reason to fantasize that I'm younger. I take my 16' Avon Professional whitewater raft out of the garage and run class 3-4 rivers every now and then (I'll be running the gorge of the South Fork of the American River the week after next). I'm still working on my treehouse, perched some 18 feet up in a huge oak tree in my backyard. When I built it a couple summers ago I hoisted the 8' x 8' framed floor up into the tree by myself. Sure, I almost killed myself, but "close" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
When I look around, I like what I see. I live in a beautiful place (the Sonoma Valley, illustrated by the pictures on this page). I have a wonderful family (wife, two kids, a dog). I have a wonderful job, with great colleagues and challenging but energizing work. I have my health. Sure, I have my bad days and my challenges. I make mistakes and have to pick up the pieces. But I don't have more than my share of troubles, and I think I have fewer.
I feel like 50 is a more significant milestone in my life than just about any other age I've yet experienced. I find myself assessing my career, trying to figure out where I want to be in the next 5 and 10 years. I also realize that I'm comfortable in my skin. I know who I am, and I know what I will and won't put up with. I know what I'm good at and what I suck at. And I'm fine with working with it all, and being honest with others about who I am. I think I've never been as comfortable being me as I am now. Maybe that's what it means to be 50. If so, then I'd like to stay here a while.