I’ll be turning 50 in a few weeks. As I approach this birthday I’ve found myself in a good and reflective place lately. To me, 50 feels much more like a milestone than previous decade birthdays. I’m aware that, statistically speaking, more of my life is now behind me than is ahead of me. I’m happy with where I am in life but also curious about choices I didn’t make.
Some of those choices were simple forks in the road – either option would have probably worked out ok. On the other hand, with other choices there was a clear right way for me and a wrong way for me. An example of this right way/wrong way option was the coming out process. I remember a time in my early 20’s, when I was still confused, and I was going to propose to my girlfriend at the time. We had known each other for several years and got along well.
I had everything planned. But, at the last minute, I didn’t do it. At the time, I don’t know why I didn’t propose other than something in my gut told me not to. Looking back on this, it was clearly the right decision. I wouldn’t have been happy married. However, I am curious about what would life had been like had I married and had kids. It amazes me to think that they would be in their teens or even 20’s by now! I’m curious what kind of a father I would have been. At the same time, I’m very happy with the way my life is today and I know in my heart that it was the right path for me.
We all have milestones in our lives. I believe that it can be helpful to reflect back upon those milestones to look at what we learned. Sometimes, it can be helpful to express curiosity about the paths not taken. At times those paths not taken can inform us about where we need to be in the present moment or how we need to change our present situation to be closer to where we want to be.
I’m also aware of key events in my past that impact me today. Some of these events were quite painful. These painful events influenced me in many ways; however, as I’ve become older, I’m also aware that these events happened in the past. Keeping them in the present isn’t helpful. They did have a profound impact on my life, but they do not control how I live my life in the present. I think at some point we all have to find a way to let go of the past and keep it there. The past informs us. Yes, it all happened – both the good and the not so good. However, the more interesting perspective to me is how those past events influence what we choose for today.
As I approach 50, I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities I’ve had in life. I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve had along the way. Of course, there are some decisions I would like to do over, but there are many more that I’m very happy and satisfied about. I look forward to the path forward with, hopefully, a bit more wisdom than I’ve had in the past.