This week is a big week for me. Of course it’s a big week for all Ravens fans – a win on Sunday clinches a ticket to the post season dance. But this week is personal.
I’m turning 50!
A half century!
Thirty didn’t bother me nor did forty. But fifty fits about as well as those size 30 jeans I wore back in high school.
Friends tell me it’s just a number and I’ve read where 50 is the new 40. But my guess is that those who subscribe to that "theory" are already 50 and I know that my friends and family members who tell me it’s just a number already hit the mark. So their credibility is tainted when it comes to "Five-Oh."
Or is that Five Oh No?
My friend Rob Long, upon learning of my age once quipped, "Dude you’re old!"
I’ve never felt old and I don’t feel old today although my driver’s license tells me otherwise. Maybe I’m really 18 with 32 years of experience…
I used to think guys who were fifty were old. I played fast pitch softball with guys who hit the half-century mark. They seemed ancient relative to my spry 30. Now old guys are 70 and I need to be careful about saying that because my Pop is 75 and he still doesn’t think of himself as old.
So feeling good is good and I’ve been very fortunate in the health department. I’ve never had any surgery; I’ve never even had any anesthesia although I hear it’s good stuff; and I never needed prescription glasses until this year and even then, only to enhance my viewing pleasure of Ravens’ games and my HDTV.
But 50 years is a looooooong time.
To put 50 into perspective, the average cost of a new home in 1960 was $12,700; a gallon of gas was 25 cents; the average new car cost $2,600; John F. Kennedy was elected President; The Flintstones debuted; Chubby Checker started a new dance craze – The Twist; aluminum cans were used for the first time; the Best Motion Picture was the last black and white picture to win The Oscar – The Apartment; and Are You Lonesome Tonight by Elvis Presley was the Number 1 record on the date of my birth, December 23, 1960.
I am a bit comforted by the fact that I share a birth year with Diego Maradona, Antonio Banderas, Hugh Grant and U2’s Bono. Those guys don’t seem so old. At least they don’t to me.
When I ponder the age of 50, in many ways I feel like I’m still waiting to hit my stride, kind of like the Ravens offense in the second half of games. It’s as though someday I’ll get to where I want to be – that pinnacle of my hopes and dreams and life up until now, has been an ongoing pursuit of whatever or wherever that pinnacle is or rests.
Perhaps that’s the rub of 50. Life shouldn’t be about reaching out for that brass ring to attain happiness. The pursuit or the journey is fine but that ring shouldn’t define you.
What defines you is the person you become along the way.
So who am I? What have I become?
I suppose that’s really not for me to judge, is it?
By now I’m sure many of you have concluded, "Lombardi is struggling with some midlife crisis." And by the generally accepted definition of a midlife crisis, perhaps I am.
But being the optimist I am, I’ll look at this so-called crisis as more of an awakening and the alarm clock is this number 50. And as that number approaches it has dawned on me that the pinnacle, the brass ring and whatever it is that I think awaits me if I’m fortunate to get there – wherever there is, maybe isn’t all that important. The pursuit will continue; it’s in my DNA to be driven that way.
Yet in much the same way that The Grinch realized the importance of Christmas and its true meaning, it has dawned on me that having what I want or at least what I think I want – that ring, isn’t anywhere near as important as wanting what I already have.
And what I have is a wonderful family and a group of beautiful people who I can proudly call "friends."
And if that’s how I’m defined, well that’s alright with me.
Fifty is not going to be so bad.
After all, it’s just a number!