Well, the countdown is over and, as of 10 minutes ago, I am 50 years old. I've been blogging it as Taking Stock for nearly a year and a half; in reviewing, I've found I didn't write nearly as many entries as I expected to.
For example, my last post in this series was about why I like country music, and it was dated July 11. I only got half my thoughts down, and I said I'd come back to the subject the next day, but I never did. Oh, I did half-heartedly start one evening, late, but the words wouldn't come. I've learned in my three years(!) writing Babble On that forcing a post only makes me unhappy with both the effort and the quality of the finished piece. I'd rather not publish crap.
By the way, Country music's roots are Southern and rural, like mine. It prizes melody and straightforward storytelling, with a very subtle sophistication in the musical execution, more than any other genre of popular music I know (yes, jazz did grow out of the blues, but listen to Western Swing and tell me improvisation has no place in Country). In attitude, Country promotes self-reliance, family, and patriotism, while not shying away from the grittier and seamier side of life; that's the old "drinkin' and cheatin' songs". There is an aura of realism to this music and an awareness of its history. You really can sum up what I find attractive about Country music by listening to Red Headed Stranger. That's why Country music.
I intended to write about the sacredness I find in laughter, the happiness and the pain of being a divorced father whose children live several hundred miles away, the joy and the work of growing into the provider and intimate partner a husband should be. Come to think of it, I did cover those last two subjects more deeply than any others.
It's interesting that Lisa overheard someone at my high school reunion say that I was about the last person they expected to get married. That was the 1978 version of me, a lonely little nerd with next to no self-confidence, who used what humor he could muster as a substitute for social skills. And it worked; my best friend actually thought I was outgoing in those days! The 2010 version of me is a valued and knowledgeable employee, a solid behind-the-scenes volunteer with a charity I believe in, and a decent provider, parent, and spouse.
I love my life. I do have regrets, as any person who takes a thoughtful look back at himself should; I could always have done better. However, in spite of those regrets and the often deep accompanying pain, I would change nothing. I am who I am because of my journey.
I will continue my journey as I have so far, taking in knowledge and hopefully transforming it through experience into wisdom, prizing the grace and mystery and beauty in this life, and loving my wife and my children and my parents and my friends as deeply and as well as I can.
And I will always, always laugh.