An Xer Looks at Fifty

Fifty! How the hell did I get here this fast? I guess I’m not alone. Generation X as a whole is getting old and registering for AARP cards. Well, not registering but are of age to register for their old age discount cards. To be sure I am in no hurry to be a card-carrying member of that club.

The catalyst for writing this post was the title of a book that was around our house – The Life We Bury. I know nothing about the book but, the title struck a chord. The title made me wonder if I have not so much buried but faded some of my life? My suspicion is that it’s normal for some of us to bury or fade things as we take on jobs, have kids and buy houses.

Back to my story

There are some days when I look in the mirror and don’t seem older. The face staring back at me is a little older but still the face I’m used to seeing. Then there are the days when I get a glimpse of myself in a picture. That’s when I see the fleshy color appearing at the crown of my head and aging in my face. I don’t mind looking older. I understand that with age comes experience. Experience means I’m going to have some human patina and I’m ok with that.

I’m not thinking it’s generation x midlife crisis. There are many professionals that think the whole mid-life crisis is a bunch of bunk. I have no idea, but I do catch myself thinking about things in different ways. So, what is it like for this Xer to look at fifty?

Where it started

“I’m getting too old for that.” Somewhere in my mid-40s I caught myself repeating this phrase. In some cases, it was in reference to dealing with other people’s drama. Then, it morphed into weighing if something/someone was worth my time. And, there it is – time, life’s most precious commodity.

Let’s back up a little. At the ripe young age of 29, I had a friend say something to me that would change the trajectory of my life. It was a late spring afternoon in Denver as my friend and I walked up Broadway toward our cars. During our conversation on life goals, my friend says, “The man with the most experience when he dies wins.” Boom. It was not a challenge rather, a point. Within two years, I left Denver to scratch a travel itch and ended up meeting my wife. We married, traveled the world together and have been raising three sons since.

I pride myself in having sound priorities. I joined the military to prevent my father from feeling obliged to fund my college. I quit my job (wife too) to travel the world at a younger age instead of later in life. I started my own business to cut my commuting time to work closer to home. To be sure, some decisions have come at a financial cost that I/we traded for experience(s). Had we chosen a different path we may have more money in our pockets today. The reality is that none of us have a card in our back pocket guaranteeing us tomorrow. For me, it’s important to make decisions that I will not regret someday.

Dealing

As I sneak up on 50, there’s a lot going on. Driving age is here (oldest is 16) and college is not far. All the while, our boys are coming into their own desires for independence. With those stages of life come emotional mixing bowls and associated attitudes. For this, I want to continue being present but, realize that the next 12 years will be challenging on the mind and wallet. At the same time, I have our own futures and dreams to save for. When I sit with these thoughts I’m compelled to work harder or maybe smarter.

It seems that, for me, successful aging is going to be out smart use of time and resources. As I reflect on the last few years, I can see and feel some of the attitudinal changes. I weigh purchases a lot more for quality and how much use I will truly get from something. Opportunities to do things, I now consider the full amount of time and resources versus other things on my to do or to see list. Although I’ve worn the same size clothes for at least 10 years, I’ve been donating many things that I never wear. I’ve even gone so far as to have a one in one out policy on t-shirts. In the past, my attitude on t-shirts was more the better.

For the most part, I’ve always been a minimalist but, hitting this stage in life I’m now a quality-ist. As with many aspects of life, you have to slog through the crap to find clarity. For this Xer (not a boomer) I’m thankful for the journey to this point and look forward to squeezing every little drop out of the rest of my time on this blue marble.