display | more...

Today, February 17, is my birthday. Today I am 50 years old. The big 5-0. There, it's in print and that helps me believe it. That helps me internalize it, as the people who write pop psychology books might say. I've been repeating it again and again to myself for over a week now. Isn't turning 50 something that happens to other people? Something you read about?

Every cliché you've ever heard springs to mind, including the old one about how 'I don't feel 50'. Friends tell me I don't look my age, and having seen quite a few men in their 40s that appear old enough to be my father, I can certainly believe the friends. Most definitely I do not "act my age", whatever that might be. Once I hit 30 or so, I decided that was good enough and I think I've held the line there ever since. Let's pull out another cliché: truly, age is just another goddamn number.

I don't have a list of "things I wanted to do before reaching 50" or any such thing. Hell, I've made it up as I went along and done quite a few of the things I discovered I wanted to do; which either means I've been extraordinarily lucky, or didn't set my sights very high! Or perhaps it's that many of the things I might have wanted to do can't be done – I mean, one can't spend a day with Benjamin Franklin or attend one of Winston Churchill's great speeches in Parliament. Nor can one take a ride in Doctor Who's TARDIS or hear Latin spoken by Cicero or dear old Julius Caesar.

Nevertheless, I've traveled far from my birthplace in Kentucky to many parts of the world, worked a few interesting jobs, met some fascinating people (many right here at E2), seen some things nice people aren't meant to see (I love saying that), and been fortunate enough to find and marry the love of my life. I learned as a child that to stop learning, to stop being curious, to stop wanting to know – that was a form of death.

With all its ups and downs, the first half-century has been a hell of a ride. A damn fine ride. And I have every expectation and hope that the next 50 will be even better. I'm happy where I am and with who I am, still learning and growing. Just a few more clichés: while there's life, there's hope, and there's a lot of life in the old boy yet.

Just give my rocking chair a little push as you go by, would you ...