My birthday is coming up and I'm not really looking forward to it. I'm not quite sure when I transitioned from wondering what cool present I'd get to a resigned sigh acknowledging that I'm one year closer to dead, but I know where I'm at right now.
I'm not whining, you understand. A birthday you're not looking forward to is considerably better than the alternative. Still, it does make one wonder where the last year went.
When I was in my 20s, I used to get discouraged that Michelangelo carved the Pieta when he was 24. I pretty much spent my twenties shoveling manure and moving hogs -- worthwhile work, but not quite the same as creating an immortal work of art.
When I was in my 30s, there was another whole group of overachievers that made me feel inferior. When Lewis, of Lewis and Clark, turned 32 he was halfway to the ocean, leading a group of explorers across wilderness never seen by Europeans and in the process transforming this country. In his diary he wrote, "This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generationâ€¦"
He was embarrassed because he hadn't accomplished anything in his life, but vowed to try harder. I tried hard in my 30s, too, but I have to admit I didn't lead any expeditions across uncharted wilderness, unless you count the time my wife and I took a church youth group on a work project to Jamaica. It was plenty stressful, particularly since even though there was a path the kids wanted to take, it was the path past the nude beach.
When he was 40, Johnny Depp was voted the Sexiest Man in America. I didn't even come in second. Actually, I don't know if I managed one vote.
Now I'm in my 50s. So is Michael Jackson. This does not make me feel better. He may be a gifted musician who has written and performed amazing music and made millions of dollars in the process, but he's crazy andâ€¦you knowâ€¦weird. Trust me, when you're a guy in your 50s, you worry a little about the creepy factor showing up, so you don't really need a role model who's a poster boy for creepy.
I don't have a lot to look forward too, either. Mick Jagger is in his mid-60s and he's still a rock star. I can barely whistle.
President Reagan BECAME president when he was 70.
Mickey Mouse is 80 and he's still hip, not to mention making millions of dollars a year.
It could be that I'm a late bloomer -- maybe I'm just coming into my prime. You know how some people peak in high school and then it's just a long downhill slide after that? Maybe I'm the other side of that and my best years are still ahead. Take another look at Michelangelo -- sure he was a big wheel when he was twenty, but when he was 90 what was he doing?
Oh, yeah. He was a world famous artist who died while still working on magnificent statues.