Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Musings on Turning 50

 

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” — Muhammad Ali

I turn 50 today. Humans make meaning out of randomness, and since we use base-10 math, birthdays ending in zero can be a big deal. I find that 50 is an opportunity for reflection on my life. I always had goals for age 50, some spoken and some just understood. Part of the wonder I have is how I have changed in ways that Bryan of 30 years ago cannot even imagine.

As far as goals, I have checked off the big ones. I married my college sweetheart, whom I started dating in May 1990. We were not married until we were both out of college four years later, but 2020 will mark 30 years as a couple. I don’t know how to live as an adult without Linda.

Linda and I have two wonderful kids, our 17-year-old son, Gil, and our (next month) 15-year-old daughter, Ann Marie. They are our greatest treasures in this world. Since I held Gil in my arms, I wanted him to participate in Scouts, earn his Eagle, and go with him to Philmont. All that has come to pass, including the odd fate that we both earned our Eagle Scout award 5,701 days after the day we were born. Clearly it was meant to be.

Ann Marie is a passionate, alive young lady who is just exactly the daughter I imagined. Not having a sister growing up, I always wanted a daughter, and God gave that to us. Both children love each other, fight less than their parents do, and are as close as I dared hoped siblings could be. And, for the moment, everyone is basically healthy.

Work has not gone as planned at age 20. Then, I was fresh into Psychology and not sure what I was going to do. I wanted to get a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology, but that was not in the cards. I ended up a House Parent, and later getting a master’s in psychology. That led to my day job of being a therapist in a big organization where I planned to get my license and get out.

Then, I worked on developing a computer game with friends. Ace of Angels was going to be the first game we published. That did not work out as planned. Then I was going to take the Executive MBA and find a new job. That did not happen either, and I wound up as CEO for two and a half years. Maybe that was the ticket? Nope. In the past two years, I have had 10 months unemployed. Today I am as happy as I have ever been at work. Not where I expected at all, in fact, this job came looking for me!

So, I am nowhere on the path for career I thought I would be on at 20, or 30, or 47, for that matter. I had certainly hoped to have a higher income at this point and not be worried about paying for college. I had hoped for more vacations, and maybe even be looking towards a cabin in the woods at this point. But what I really wanted was a sports car. I have never had one, and my father bought one at age 50. That has been for me the symbol of having “made it” that I could buy an impractical car, just for me, just for fun. Well, that is not happening this year, either.

Thoughts and beliefs-wise, Bryan at 20 would be appalled by Bryan at 50. Hypocrisy is no longer a big sin for me, but the lubricant that keeps social interactions smooth. Bryan at 50 likes a nice whiskey on a Friday night, unlike the 20-year-old who could not stand the taste. My son has long hair, which the Democrat young adult I was would never have tolerated, while the Conservative man I am today just shrugs. I just don’t get winded up about the same, or as many things. What I do get excited about has more depth than it used too. I have a much greater sense of what is important. It is easier to focus on what I can control. More peaceful too. Bryan at 20 was in the process of abandoning his faith; Bryan today fights and wrestles for every bit of it he can get, even if the price is ending up lame.

So, I ask myself, what turning 50 means to me. It clearly means I am more comfortable in my own skin. I am well satisfied with who I have been and who I am becoming. I have no idea what is in store for me. I am certain than my personal race is more than half over. It might be a lot more than half over. A very recent thing is that I have moments, not all the time, but moments, where I reflect and think, “It has been a good race to today. I could depart this world and feel my impact has been made.”

Don’t get me wrong, even when I have those moments, I still have much I would like to do. And. And, I am good with things so far. I would not trade a moment, even the valleys, with my darling bride, Linda. It is been worth it to get here. I would not trade a moment with our children. Even my pitfalls have helped to make me Bryan G. Stephens.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 46 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Well done, Bryan. Well done .

    • #1
    • January 17, 2020, at 4:45 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Judge Mental, Secret Chimp Member

    Happy Birthday, Bryan. 50 is a big’un.

    • #2
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:00 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan, I be waiting to hear the turning “60 report” and compare notes.

    Happy Birthday,

    III

    • #3
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:23 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. Belt Member

    I turned fifty three days ago. I’d like to think that I haven’t changed that much, but there are three decades of experience separating me from who I was then. I’d say I have a deeper appreciation of the vagaries of human nature, but also for the importance of family, faith, and community.

    Also, get off my lawn.

    • #4
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:27 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks y’all.

    It is quite the journey thus far

    • #5
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Bryan G. Stephens: But what I really wanted was a sports car. I have never had one, and my father bought one at age 50. That has been for me the symbol of having “made it” that I could buy an impractical car, just for me, just for fun. Well that is not happening this year, either.

    It will happen. You’ve earned it.

    Great post!

    • #6
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:46 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. KentForrester Moderator

    Bryan, honesty appeals to me more than any other quality in a person’s writing. I like the pats on the back we give ourselves within short autobiographical posts, of course, but I like the warts most of all.

    So I really appreciated your post because it smacks of honesty throughout. Just as a confession to a priest is useless if it’s not honest, a review of one’s life is of no use whatsoever if it ignores one’s shortcomings.

    • #7
    • January 17, 2020, at 5:54 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  8. PHCheese Member

    A word of advice from someone who had his 50th birthday 25 years ago. It would behove you to if you aren’t already to start preparing your body for the stretch run. You’ll want to be healthy and active for the next 50 years.

    • #8
    • January 17, 2020, at 6:30 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Seawriter Member

    Youngster.

    As for plans? If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

    • #9
    • January 17, 2020, at 6:31 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  10. Nohaaj Coolidge

    What a grand coincidence. My lovely Dame Gesa just turned 50 yesterday and I read your post to her while we drive to our local ski resort.

    • #10
    • January 17, 2020, at 6:33 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  11. Vectorman Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    As for plans? If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

    So true. At 40 I had my first layoff as an Engineer. The old saw was that companies didn’t hire someone over 40, as they were considered “obsolete.” After some interesting jobs and other layoffs, I was able to retire at 59.5 years old.


    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. There are many days available on the February Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #11
    • January 17, 2020, at 7:35 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: My son has long hair, which the Democrat young adult I was would never have tolerated, while the Conservative man I am today just shrugs.

    Absolutely brilliant point.

    I suddenly have a brilliant idea for a post to write. I may give you credit.

    Your whole essay was wonderful. But that sentence stopped me cold. Wonderful.

    Thanks!

    • #12
    • January 17, 2020, at 7:40 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  13. ltpwfdcm allegedly Coolidge

    HBD BGS!

    More verbosely, Happy Birthday! Also, congrats on struggling through the unemployment slog and coming out on the other side a better person and enjoying the fruits of that labor. You’ve earned it!

    • #13
    • January 17, 2020, at 7:49 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Kay of MT Member

    Happy Birthday Brian, and may you have many, many more. At 50 I was an eager beaver, raring to. However, the last 30 years has taken it’s toll. Keep yourself fit whatever you do.

    • #14
    • January 17, 2020, at 7:59 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Rodin Member

    Happy birthday, young man. My 20 self is somewhat still in there somewhere, but life does have a way of transforming you. It sounds like for many of the things that did not happen (yet) the blessings of what has happened have more than compensated.

    • #15
    • January 17, 2020, at 8:00 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    Happy birthday, Kid. Now, don’t get cocky.

    • #16
    • January 17, 2020, at 8:22 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    Even at age 20 I was a political and cultural conservative, and at least on the surface my life looks kinda like what a 20 year old me would have predicted. But underneath the surface there were some surprises.

    At age 32 I discovered I liked a predictable job less than I thought I would when I joined a large staid corporation in a job that had established processes and career progression, and was immediately unhappy.

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Youngster.

    As for plans? If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

    Yeah, one of the disliked features of the job referenced above was that at some point in my career with the company I would have been transferred to upstate New York – and nobody in their right mind, especially after growing up in southern California, would live in upstate New York. But then many years later, we got tired of the congestion and cost of living in southern California, and moved to upstate New York, where we stayed quite enjoyably for 19 years, working for a different large company. 

    So then in my late 40s I discovered, despite my generally conservative outlook, that I could be quite the disruptive trouble maker in a corporate department that had become fossilized in its processes based on, “we’ve always done it that way.” At times I was rather amazed that my constant questions of “why” got me promoted rather than fired. 

    My big discovery has been that being “conservative” does not necessarily mean keeping the details the same, but is more about keeping underlying principles that have been proven over time. 
     

    • #17
    • January 17, 2020, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. KentForrester Moderator

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Even at age 20 I was a political and cultural conservative, and at least on the surface my life looks kinda like what a 20 year old me would have predicted. But underneath the surface there were some surprises.

     

    Tabby, I hope I haven’t asked you this before, but where did you live in SoCal? I grew up, first in downtown LA, then in Compton. I worked in Watts and Lynwood. I left Southern California when I was 20 and haven’t returned except to visit my sister. 

    • #18
    • January 17, 2020, at 8:49 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    A word of advice from someone who had his 50th birthday 25 years ago. It would behove you to if you aren’t already to start preparing your body for the stretch run. You’ll want to be healthy and active for the next 50 years.

    Just back from 5 mile backpack hike on Kennesaw Mountain! 

    • #19
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Full Size Tabby Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Even at age 20 I was a political and cultural conservative, and at least on the surface my life looks kinda like what a 20 year old me would have predicted. But underneath the surface there were some surprises.

     

    Tabby, I hope I haven’t asked you this before, but where did you live in SoCal? I grew up, first in downtown LA, then in Compton. I worked in Watts and Lynwood. I left Southern California when I was 20 and haven’t returned except to visit my sister.

    As a young child (1956 – 1965) I lived in Granada Hills, which was then a remote suburb, in one of the vast tracts of housing built mostly to satisfy the demands of Korean War veterans settling in southern California. As we drove away from Granada Hills to move to Florida in 1965 (new job for my father), we literally saw in the rearview mirror the smoke of Watts burning from the riots, but my mother was convinced we would be back. We did return to southern California in 1968 (I was 12), but settled in coastal Orange County (Newport Beach). Mrs. Tabby grew up in Monrovia (inland) and Costa Mesa. We stayed in the Newport Beach / Costa Mesa area through college and after college and law school, until 2000. Mrs. Tabby and I started considering leaving southern California because the commute from our Costa Mesa home and my employer’s Anaheim office swelled from 25 minutes to 55 minutes between 1985 and 1997, and even a trip to the employer’s Newport Beach office (5 miles) could take 25 minutes at some times of the day. 

    One of the things 20 year old me didn’t know about me was how much I hated heavy traffic and congested living areas. :-) 

    • #20
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Happy 50th, Bryan!

    When my mother turned 50, my dad sneaked a cassette recorder (remember those??) under her pillow in the morning and surreptitiously “interviewed” her about the occasion. It was hilarious! She talked to her mother in heaven saying, “Can you believe your baby is 50 years old????” It was a very big deal to her. She was a sickly child and her family was told she wouldn’t make it to adulthood. Instead, she raised seven children and lived to age 93, outliving her entire family (including her 12 year younger sister, my aunt). 

    Life is good. May you live it abundantly. 

    • #21
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:17 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Coolidge

    • #22
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  23. Full Size Tabby Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: I turn 50 today. Humans make meaning out of randomness, and since we use base 10 math, birthdays ending in zero can be a big deal. I find that 50 is an opportunity for reflection on my life.

    Somewhat oddly, my own decade birthdays have never prompted any musings. It was the milestone birthdays of my children (particularly the eldest) that would stop me in my tracks (wait, I have a 13 year old teenager? an 18 year old legal adult? a 21 year old more legal adult? a 30 year old “child”?) 

    • #23
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:24 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. KentForrester Moderator

    Damn I must be old. I’m beginning to think that 50-year-olds are young. It’s all relative, isn’t it? From my view, Bryan, you’re a young guy.

    Does that help, Bryan? You’re a young guy.

    • #24
    • January 17, 2020, at 9:45 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Arahant Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Somewhat oddly, my own decade birthdays have never prompted any musings.

    Ditto.

    • #25
    • January 17, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Damn I must be old. I’m beginning to think that 50-year-olds are young. It’s all relative, isn’t it? From my view, Bryan, you’re a young guy.

    Does that help, Bryan? You’re a young guy.

    I don’t feel old and I feel older. 

    • #26
    • January 17, 2020, at 10:55 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Speaking of aging: I’ll be 82 later this month, and last Monday I bought my first-ever pair of suspenders. Somehow that seemed appropriate to the occasion; suspender and old men just go together in my mind. (They are very comfortable, BTW.)

    • #27
    • January 17, 2020, at 11:22 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  28. Stad Thatcher

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    A word of advice from someone who had his 50th birthday 25 years ago. It would behove you to if you aren’t already to start preparing your body for the stretch run. You’ll want to be healthy and active for the next 50 years.

    Just back from 5 mile backpack hike on Kennesaw Mountain!

    Even your post sounded winded . . .

    • #28
    • January 17, 2020, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Concretevol Thatcher

    Bryan G. Stephens: But what I really wanted was a sports car. I have never had one, and my father bought one at age 50. That has been for me the symbol of having “made it” that I could buy an impractical car, just for me, just for fun. Well that is not happening this year, either.

    The year ain’t over. Get it done!

    • #29
    • January 17, 2020, at 11:46 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Concretevol Thatcher

    Belt (View Comment):

    I turned fifty three days ago. I’d like to think that I haven’t changed that much, but there are three decades of experience separating me from who I was then. I’d say I have a deeper appreciation of the vagaries of human nature, but also for the importance of family, faith, and community.

    Also, get off my lawn.

    Happy birthday! I turned 51, 4 days ago! lol

    • #30
    • January 17, 2020, at 11:48 AM PST
    • 4 likes