My Semicentennial

Chocolate cake in honor of MBJ's 50th birthday

All day, birthday greetings have been pouring in from friends and family. Most sound a common theme: turning fifty is a significant right of passage. Many of the messages are tinged with dire humor, advising that “Fifty is a major birthday” and welcoming me to “the beginning of the end.” As often happens, my mother put it best: “I’m an awfully young woman to have a son who is fifty.”

The consensus seems to be that I am old.

But am I? I certainly don’t feel any older than I ever did. Perhaps part of it is my irreverent, adventurous attitude (which could be one of those keeps-me-youngish-despite-the-gray-in-my-hair things); but part of it must be the fact that my knees have been more-or-less shot since I was nineteen (so I have always been old and decrepit). Either way, I feel no different than I did at forty — or thirty or twenty, for that matter.

Have I simply not been paying close enough attention? I like to think this feeling of continuity is the product of exactly the opposite: the fact that I am actively aware, each-and-every day, of the many things in my life that make it wonderful, if not extraordinary. So rather than finding myself at the threshold of these milestone anniversaries suddenly awakening to the realization that time has passed, each day melts into the next, muting the changes and attenuating events which may have seemed more significant as they were occurring. I suppose it helps that I’m amazingly pleased with the way things have gone and truly enjoy being me. In fact, if reincarnation turns out to be something more than a wistful, well-intentioned fantasy, I’d like to come back as me. In any case, the peaks seem less astonishing and the valleys less disappointing in a life that has gone far better than anyone has a right to expect and, sadly, few have the imagination even to hope for. This eliminates both the need and the ability to indulge in a Kabuki of angst and disappointment when crossing a decennial boundary.

Thus, my fiftieth birthday has been every-bit the nonevent of birthdays past. In keeping with tradition, however, I have allowed myself to make a birthday wish: that each of you have (or, by now, have had) a wonderful 11th of August, wherever you happen to be reading this. Ambitious? Perhaps. But the rule is that I can wish for any damned thing I want.

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7 Responses to “My Semicentennial”


  1. 1 Andrea Green 13 August 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Since we were children you have always been just a little more blessed than the rest of us!! But knowing you is blessing to all of us. Except when you are a pill – but I digress…You wished for me a special 8/11 and just for you I did something extraordinary (for me anyways)and I say thank you! Who knows, maybe you were who/what spun it all into being. I wish you many more years of just being you. My life would not be the same without you. xo

  2. 2 Anita 15 August 2010 at 1:43 am

    Markie,

    Though I couldn’t get here on the 11th to wish you, I thought of you and sent a prayer your way. I had a very lovely 11th Aug, btw. Sending loads of love and hugs your way.

    -Spike

  3. 3 rahulbrown 20 August 2010 at 2:13 pm

    MBJ:

    My wife maintains that my actual age is somewhere between 5 and 10 years old. I’ve heard similar things about you from your better-half, and must say that the assessment has some merit based on the times we’ve shared sandboxes and action figures :-)

    And you’ve got the finest head of hair of any pre-teen semicentinerian I know. Though your pony tail is at times a little frazzy and unruly, its a fine crop demonstrating excellent density and sometimes bounce. Do you condition?

    Happy belated!

  4. 4 Terry 26 August 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I can’t believe you turned 50! Wow – that makes me . . . oh never mind.

    A very happy (albeit belated)birthday to you. Hope all is well. We’re loving life up on the hill with all our furry friends. I have four grandbabies now – three boys and a little girl. They are wonderful.

    I haven’t seen or heard from Kaki in a long time. I hope she and Tib are well.

    I’d love to hear from you. You will always hold a special place in my heart.

    Love T

  5. 5 tbd 1 September 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Aww..

    this makes me semisentimental..

    come back!

    and asha says: “please thank him for the berries again” (or was it cherries?)

  6. 6 LAvande 2 September 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Many blessings to you MArk…Glad you are feeling great in your 50th year!

  7. 7 Nicola 12 September 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Congrats Mark (:
    its good you are happy being you rather than being unhappy , its the only life you get so make the most of it right :)
    enjoy your life <3


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