Approaching Double Nickels

Today I turn fifty four years old.

When I was twenty, I would gaze forward through the mists of time and wonder what life would be like in the year 2000. I would be forty three. God…that’s beyond old. I was not going to settle down with a steady job, wife, and family of my own, that was for sure. That life was for suckers. For the unimaginative. I was going to live bigger. To be one of the chosen few meant to wonder from place to place in search of adventure, flipping my life upside down and reinventing myself every few years when I grew bored with where I was and what I was doing. And that’s just what I did. Ski bum in Colorado. Deep sea diver in the Gulf of Mexico. I had quite a time. By the time I  reached thirty eight after having bounced aimlessly around the country for fifteen years, I found myself back home in Seattle driving a cab downtown ferrying parking meter thieves and drunk frat boys in the AM hours wondering where the time had gone. Only five years to go until the millennium when I would be old. Funny thing is…I felt old already.

Fast forward fifteen years and I’m a homeowner, working a steady job with a family of my own. It’s not a perfect family by any stretch but we are sixteen years and counting so scoffing at the law of averages anyway. Like most notions floating around inside the head of a twenty year old, I had it exactly backwards then. I had started with all of the answers without knowing any of the questions. That I am a stubborn man capable of employing copious amounts of rationalization is patently obvious as it took me a decade and a half from the age of twenty to figure this out. The past fifteen years have been a time of asking questions, of always hoping that I am asking the right ones but never knowing until I work the problem, and in realizing that the working out of these problems rather than picking an answer at random and running with it are what keep you young.

When I was twenty I had all the answers. As half a century of living fades in the rear view mirror I increasingly have only questions about the road ahead. When problems are overwhelming I try to fight the trap of certainty and instead employ curiosity. When the problems of life are big, the working of them make me bigger. I am fifty four years old and have never felt younger.


6 responses to “Approaching Double Nickels

  1. Congrats, Mark on your 54th! I turn 50 in September on the first. I always compare myself to my own mother, who didn’t live past 29. Geez, that’s young, isn’t it. She was married by 19, and had 5 kids by 29, dying right after the fifth one was born.
    I have the same attitude about aging that you have. I only wish my arthritic ankles and wrists would agree with me.

  2. Beautifully said. Happy Birthday.

  3. Many happy and happier returns of the day!

  4. Happy birthday! I totally meant to comment on this yesterday but I got distracted. 🙂

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