On Being 50

Just another day catching up with old friends.

Just another day catching up with old friends. Toronto, ON 2015

Today, I turn 50. Half a century. The BIG 5-0. So how does it feel? I’m going to tell you.

Today, I woke up. When I woke up the sun was rising, a breeze was blowing and birds were singing. Just like yesterday.

My beautiful wife of 25 years was already up and getting ready for work. My three wonderful children are happy, healthy, and confident young adults moving forward in their lives. Just like yesterday.

I have a large extended family of brothers, sisters, in-laws, friends, and others. My parents and my in-laws, while older, are healthy, happy, and active. Just like yesterday.

On the Santa Ana River trail in Orange, CA. Around 1973 or '74. Reminiscent of the movie

On the Santa Ana River trail. Reminiscent of the movie “Stand By Me.” I’m second from left. Don’t you love those handlebars? Orange, CA 1973 or ’74

I live in a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood with good neighbors. I have food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. The dogs are sleeping on the couch and the cat is curled up in a corner. Just like yesterday.

The car runs, there are bills to pay, and a plethora of daily chores and worries. I look in the mirror and see an older man whose hair is just starting to gray. I have a few minor aches and pains, but they go away. Just like yesterday.

I am loved and love. I will smile and frown. Just like yesterday.

But today is different, and not because I’m 50. It’s different because every day is different. Just like yesterday.

So if today feels like yesterday, and yesterday the day before, how do I feel? Like a child. Just like yesterday.

Taft Elementary School, Orange, CA. 1971

Taft Elementary School Orange, CA. 1971

My age is not tied to my body. It is tied to my heart and my mind. I never age because I love to keep the child alive. Just like yesterday.

My birthday wish is that each and every one of you has the same sort of blessings in your life, and when you wake up in the morning you start the day with a smile and say, “Wow, this feels just like yesterday.”

Let’s Light “Wildfires” of Change

First thing this morning, like most mornings, I turned on my computer and with coffee in hand began to read the daily news. Here are just four of the headlines that greeted me:

“State of Emergency: More than 100 Arrested Around Ferguson”

“Child’s Body Found in Search for Missing Arizona 5-year-old”

“Brother of Texas Teen Shot by Cop: ‘He wouldn’t Attack’”

“Two Dead, One Seriously Wounded in Stabbing at Ikea.”

Is this really what we have become in our news media? Long lists of negative, and for most people, irrelevant news stories that only spread the horror and depression of a few to the homes of many? Is this really what we as human beings want to hear and take in as “good” journalism? I truly hope not.

These things are all tragic and sad, but they do not affect me personally and I have no need to read or hear about them. They do not have bearing on my life every day as I move forward with the things I have to do. There is enough darkness, strife, and turmoil in the area I live without having to hear about it from around our nation and around our world. I am not trying to sound cold or unfeeling. The pain that people in these areas feel, and the anger over things such as racism, crime, loss and suffering are very real and my heart goes out to the victims on all sides, but it’s more than I can concern myself with.

The need of the media to relentlessly cover negative news stories and to publicize these stories nationally and internationally creates a false sense among people that we are safe nowhere, yet the stories they tell are actually an imperceptible fraction of a percentage point of life on this planet. The news media never cover the positive stories with the vim and vigor that a negative story will receive.  So rarely is the opening story of the news broadcast positive; they save those stories, if they tell them at all, for just before the closing credits, after weather and sports, when most have tuned out and changed the channel.

I truly believe that the number of human beings that do good, that try to make a difference in their communities through volunteerism, activism, education, and good deeds so exponentially exceeds the negative impacts of a few, but we only hear about the worst. I want my children not to fear their world and those who inhabit it, but to embrace it, to accept people not by how they look, worship, speak, or where they come from, but by how they give of themselves to others – how they spread love, joy, and the gift of embracing a joyous life.

That’s my news. That’s what I want to read. Perhaps if we focused as hard on highlighting the good works of good people everywhere, we could stop having to address racism, rioting, murder, and mayhem in our news. Perhaps that would go farther toward healing the rifts of humanity. And let’s start by worrying about our own homes, neighborhoods and communities and stop worrying about events hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Let’s start small “wildfires” of change and let them spread outward to revitalize the land and people. I don’t know, isn’t it worth a shot? What we’re doing now sure doesn’t seem to be working.