Truth be told, birthdays have never been that big of a deal for me.
Yet, I suppose this one is more of a milestone than some. On May 27 my personal calendar will flip to 50. The big 5-0. Half a century.
The day itself won’t really seem different from any other. I will be working at one of my multiple jobs so I probably won’t even think about it much.
Confession time: Birthdays in recent years have been tougher. They really have seemed that way since I turned the big 4-0 a decade ago. I’m not sure why. A mid-life crisis I suppose or at least perhaps it was to some degree.
On May 27, 1971, your newspaper columnist arrived in this world, the first son of Paul and Melba Bridges. For it’s worth I was born in Macon and grew up in the Middle Georgia town of Monticello, a few miles down Hwy. 11
Recent years though have brought the loss of loved ones. That is actually what I think most about, certainly more so than my current age. Knowing the older I get it means family members from previous generations as well friends will be lost.
It has been 30 years since I graduated high school and we have already lost one member of our small class. Truth to known our class is probably lucky that number is only one.
It’s all a part of life but it’s still tough to wrap my head around. Or maybe I just don’t want to.
I have tried to look at age 50 as simply another birthday. No bigger deal than turning 40 or 30 or 20. Without a doubt, one is no longer young at my age. I am middle-aged at best and getting very close to being described with that adjective termed “old.” Carefree days of youth, while in reality long since departed, are officially in the rear-view mirror now.
In so many ways, my mind still thinks I’m a teenager, still in school, still hanging with my friends and still worrying about things that don’t really matter.
When I remind myself that so many of those childhood friends now have teenagers themselves, it makes me wonder how in the world I’ve reached this point. It doesn’t seem possible. Wasn’t it us a couple of years ago roaming the halls at our school, playing sports, hanging out on weekends, enjoying every minute of life?
How has all of that long ago been replaced by jobs, paying bills, an overload of stress and the realization that those carefree times have indeed long since slipped away?
It helps to think about the things I am blessed with as I turn this historic page. Family support when that is not always guaranteed for everyone. Friends I would do anything for and, in return, I feel they would do the same for me. It’s not a large group of friends because friendship is not something everyone appreciates.
So, what is it about being 50 that causes me to pause and thin? No doubt knowing that life is more than half over is part of it. Or it could be the knowing that you truly look old to those who are young. Or perhaps realizing this year’s senior class was not even close to being born when you finished high school. Ouch.
Then at work when the younger generation says “hello, sir” or “thank you, sir.” I want to turn and look for my father.
Birthday parties, by the time you reach this age, are long gone. For me, it’s usually a quiet night at home with a favorite movie that I’ve seen at least 50 times. It’s about trying to relax, if only for one evening.
The sun will come up the day after this milestone. People turn 50 all the time, every day and without notice. Do I feel I’m wiser at this age? In some respects, I do. However, there’s plenty I still don’t know and plenty I will never know, even if I make it another 50 years.
Birthdays aren’t a big deal unless you make them into one. No doubt being 50 is light years from being 18. Yet, I’m not so old that I still can’t remember being young. While nothing about me is “young” anymore, the ability to go back to a time when I was, is still working just fine thankfully.
So, here’s to another trip around the sun and enjoying the beauty that comes with every new day. It’s true you appreciate the little things more when you reach this age like a nap and the beauty of the blue, summer sky in Georgia.
Perhaps being 50 won’t be such a big deal. I’ve convinced myself that with the right attitude, it’s no different than turning 21. Afterall, we only get one of these days each year. They are still special even if less people notice and remember.
Chris Bridges is a former sports editor for The Walton Tribune and The Covington News. You can email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.