For the past few weeks, I have been thinking about how it feels to turn 50- which I did in August. I would like to share some thoughts on this.
As many of you know, I was a firefighter/ captain for almost 21 years in Bayonne, NJ. I retired in early 2020. One of my first officers, who I will call Willy, was a profoundly good-natured fountain of wisdom.
Back then, Willy would often ask the young, single, guys like me what we did over the weekend. He was married, did not have much of a nightlife, and was living vicariously through the younger troops. We did not mind at all.
Anyway, on one such weekend almost 25 years ago I had been to a popular local sports bar when some excitement ensued. A young woman entered the ladies’ room to find a man and woman engaged in an amorous exchange. She immediately reported it to the bartender.
The bartender passed it on to the DJ who requested, over the loudspeaker, that the couple desist and remove themselves from the premises. Which they promptly did.
Adding to their embarrassment (assuming they felt any) was that the restrooms were in the back of the establishment and so they had to walk through the crowd to exit. Almost everyone cheered, whistled, and hooted at them every step of the way. I also noted several pats on the back and mock toasts!
After relating the story to Captain Will, he asked the approximate ages of the ardent couple. I replied, with a look of disgust, "They were old, at least 50."
Captain Will, who was pushing 50 himself, was clearly offended by my unintended "ageism" and began ribbing me (smiling and playful as always) while protesting that 50 was not old. He added that before I knew it, I would find out. As usual, he was right.
50 is definitely not old but neither is it young. I am now well into middle age and a half century on this orb has taught me a thing or two.
First among those things is a greater appreciation of the value of good friends and family. When I was younger, I was guilty of constantly looking toward the horizon. Some part of me felt that the great times were over the next hill or around the next corner.
Then you wake up one sunny Monday and you are 50 years old- or 60, or 80- and you realize you were living the great times all along. We are living them still, right now.
Go out with your friends and tell your family you love them. Especially if you have not done so in some time. If you live far apart, call them, send them a letter, an email, or even a text. It will make you and them feel good.
Time is another thing I have thought more about recently. Even when life is long, there is less time than we think. My favorite stoic Marcus Aurelius said "Our time has a limit set to it. Use it then to advance your enlightenment or it will be gone and never in your power again."
The likelihood is that everyone reading this has lots of time. And that is a great thing. But that time will only be our ally if we use it.
Take that trip you have always wanted to. Finish that basement, build that addition, learn to speak that new language or to play the violin. Work toward that goal you have set yourself. Each day chip away at whatever it is you want to do.
If you get tired, or bored, or lose faith that you can do it- quit. It is ok to quit. Then after a rest pick it up again. As long as you do not quit permanently, you will succeed.
If you have any financial goals, if there are things you feel you want or should be doing when it comes to your money, consider calling me to talk about it. I am here to help.
Oh, I just remembered another pearl of wisdom from Captain Will that some of you might relate to. He told me “When you hit 40, you’ll have a pain that never goes away. It will just move from your lower back, to your knee, to your shoulder, every 6 weeks or so. At 50 you’ll have two of them. He was right about that too!
Scott R. McGimpsey August 31st, 2023
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