Today is birthday number 54 out of a possible 100.
I will live to 100.
The plan is not to make it one day longer than that.
Doing so is superfluous and simply bragging.
The past 54 trips around the sun have been pretty amazing.
The next 46 promise to be even more remarkable.
This morning I crawl into a car with my soon to be 44-year-old brother, Will, to run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota tomorrow.
The next day will be Father’s Day.
Of all the days in my life that are the most important the date of my birth is, of course, the most important.
For without that date there are no 54 trips around the sun.
There is no Mary-Helen. No Owen. No Maisie.
And, yes, Sailor, there is no dog.
There is no being a Father – the best job I have ever had or will ever have.
There’s no previous marathons. No long bike rides. No Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There is no blood clot.
Without my birthday, there are not five brothers. Or three sisters. Or an 85-year-old Mom who is my next-door neighbor feeding baloney over the fence to our dog.
There is nothing for me without June 16, 1963.
I don’t take my birthday lightly.
I mark it as a milestone about what I did the previous year. I evaluate what I did. What I didn’t do.
What I am disappointed about and what I think I should have done better.
I smile and embrace the joy of the year.
My 53rd year was a good year. It wasn’t the best year. Or the worst year.
But, it was a good year.
Not every day of it was great.
There were a few bad days.
I had some sad days.
Days where I would have rather stayed in bed.
But no single day was an ordinary in my 53rd year.
I look at my birthday as a time to think about what my next year of life should be like.
There’s no doubt that I can feel my age.
My vision is not what it used to be. My body creaks and cracks more than the floor boards in my home.
Losing the carrying weight of a 54-year-old man is harder than I want it to be. I wish every mile I ran meant that I could eat more cheesecake and cheeseburgers.
Sadly, 54 means I have to roughly run three miles for every bowl of Butter Brickle Ice Cream I like to eat.
I have a chart of miles that equal what it is I can eat before it stays on my aging frame.
Trust me, I have a lot of running to do this year to make sure that 55 isn’t the Year of Liposuction!
I’m not entirely sure what the Year of 54 will bring.
I know what it won’t bring: Standing still.
I have things I want to do this year. I will try to do better at my running and staying in shape. There are some places I want to go. I’ve yet to get on my bike this summer and I am anxious to do some serious bike rides to places I’ve been and places I have yet to go.
I need to change the world somehow this year, too. In some way that I consider to be positive and important.
In small ways and big ways.
There are some initiatives at Spare Key we hope to launch that I truly believe will help more families.
I’ve been trying to find ways to get more involved in public policy without getting back involved in politics. It’s a dilemma that frustrates me to no end.
I want to do things that will bring people together. I have some ideas.
I want to finish the book I started years ago and start on another book that I hope won’t take me so long to write. It would be great if at the end of year 54 I was able to do both.
Thankfully, I have 46 more years to get it done if I don’t.
I also want this year to be a year in which I spend less time looking at screens at more times looking at the world and the people around it.
I spend so much time looking down at the screen of a device that I don’t spend enough time looking up at the world that is happening around me.
Being 54 is a blessing.
Simply being alive is amazing.
I have done my best to avoid living my life by meme.
I don’t look for the inspirational quote that will get me through the day.
I have inspiration all around me.
As I write this I have a 16-year-old boy sitting in front of a fireplace eating Gold Fish Pretzel Crackers with a Gatorade reading a book.
He inspires me.
The dog is at the top of the stairs whimpering because she cannot come downstairs to help the boy eat the Gold Fish Pretzel Crackers. She inspires me.
My wife upstairs getting ready for work. My daughter still asleep in her bed.
My 85-year-old mother next door and my soon to be 44-year-old brother who lives with her.
They both inspire me.
I am surrounded by a world of people that give me great hope for the next 46 years of my life even if there are days the world around me brings me down.
Today’s my birthday.
47 to go.
I intend to use the rest of them wisely.