If you were born the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and Gloria Diaz donned the Miss Universe crown, it’s equally gratifying and terrifying to get to this golden installment.
At 50, you are expected to know everything. Yet one need not reference Jon Snow to say you know nothing still. The world is ever-changing. There’s just so much to learn — and unlearn.
At 50, you’re likely to play parenting roles not just to your children but also to your parents. If your wife is understanding, you’re all the better for it. If you still don’t understand her, you’ll probably never understand her at all.
At 50, you prefer daytime and avoid nighttime huddles. Sometimes you feel like clocking out before logging in your usual hours. You have no fear of missing out because you can be burned-out or bored stiff outside. You blame it all on traffic jams, but it’s really more than that. Let’s just say you still have to take 10,000 steps a day.
At 50, you watch reruns on Netflix, listen to old songs, and tell people dad jokes. People listen to reruns of your dad jokes and watch you tell them like they’re old songs. You laugh at your jokes. They laugh at the way you laugh.
At 50, you tend to forget names but recognize faces. What if Zuckerberg created Namebook instead of Facebook? Would there be half as many users on FB?
At 50, you feel the urge to attend reunions — all sorts of them. You used to shun them, didn’t you? You just saw your classmates last year, or a couple more before that, but now you’re about to see them again. It always feels like yesterday. No matter the repetition, the anecdotes never run dry. Time warp is best understood this way.
At 50, you realize that hubris is overrated. Not because aging slows you down. It’s just not smart. You don’t have to throw your weight around to influence people. Staying humble and kind can do as much. But it is underrated. Your doctor says it suits your blood pressure. So it matters not if some or none will appreciate you.
At 50, you see amazing things happen up close. Those toddlers you once held in your arms are now little people — talking you out of something or simply outtalking you. They can already take the wheels so you can sit back (though not necessarily relax). If you’re lucky enough, they help you out with the groceries, too. They bridge you from what’s hip to what’s trendy. You are in sync with the times. How cool is that?
At 50, you discover new perks and recalibrate your goals. Gray hair and eyeglasses can invite courtesies in long queues or enhance the credibility of your opinions. They might even help you get away with traffic citations. Another incentive is the time you now have to tick your bucket list. Break bread and a bad habit. Learn to surf. Jump from high up a plank in some lagoon. You can do the sign of the cross on the last one. I did.
At 50, you remember getting caught in setbacks when all life seemed to have left or in set pieces that made the world seem right — like chasing the one you love for years and succeeding in it, surprising and surpassing your parents, burying grudges and lifting spirits, getting randomly recognized in public by a former student who thanked you for her becoming a lawyer, and joining your children in tree planting or disaster relief operations. There’ll be more of either set you are told. Find God’s love and get caught in it.
If 50 is the youth of old age, I’m excited to have a second helping of my salad days.
Meantime, I do the moonwalk and the hand wave with your best wishes.
(The author is general counsel at a publicly-listed company and does pro bono litigation work on the side. He graduated from U.P. College of Law. Instead of throwing parties, he thought of throwing stories to mark his golden year.)