Not that I’m overly thrilled about it but next week I’ll be celebrating enduring my 50th birthday. While visions of creeping toward decrepitude whilst holding a pair of knitting needles in my hand filled my brain I’ve mentioned to people my dread of hitting the big 5-0 and have heard, repeatedly, “you’re only as old as you feel” and “age is a mindset.” Oh I know; trust me when I affirm that I’m not anywhere near moving to The Villages. Yet the number brings trepidation for this is grandma age and AARP membership time. Sure, when people ask “where were you when Kennedy was shot?” I’m able to reply “not born yet!” yet I must confess to drawing breath by the time the Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Therefore, like any crusty old-timer would do, I decided to reflect on life’s biggest lessons. What, I wondered, have I learned in my 50 years on this swirling planet of ours that can be summed up in a few words?
First I came up with ‘people are awesome’ because I’m a believer in the resiliency of the human spirit and the tendency of most people to truly do the right thing even when it’s tough. But then I got to thinking about people like Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot and Bernie Madoff; after all, for every Maria von Trapp from The Sound of Music there’s a Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca.
Next I considered ‘people are assholes’ but I quickly decided that was not only too cynical but also too harsh. Sure, I’ve had people stomp all over me, discuss my business when it was none of theirs to worry about, and do things that just left me breathless with shock and awe. But I don’t really believe that people, in general, are jerks so I discarded that one.
So after amassing a great deal of knowledge in my first fifty years there are a few truths I believe will carry me on valiantly through the next fifty. I have learned that:
- Surrounding yourself with amazing people means you too can be amazing
- Giving is always far better than receiving
- There’s no point in beating yourself up over past mistakes; learn from them and move forward
- Forgiving is not the same as forgetting but…
- … you should provide forgiveness with the same goodwill with which you seek it from others
- One of life’s greatest pleasures is sitting in a darkened movie theatre with a big tub of popcorn
- The people who love you will have your back no-matter-what
- Life is short … so do what brings you joy
Perhaps I’ll celebrate after all; my 51st year could be the best one yet.