Reflecting on 45 Years

I originally wrote this when I turned 45. Now I’m 50 something. Updates are in italics.

I turned 45 today. Before you send condolences, let me describe my incredible day. From the moment I woke up I felt an inner peace that filled me.

In a strange way, I feel my life is complete.

Do I have regrets? Of course.

Do I wish I’d done a few things differently? Absolutely.

I rarely dwell on the negative or “what-ifs.” Today was no different. I reflected on the past 45 years with a smile on my face:

In the last 45 years…

1. I’ve played in the rain with my kids.

2. I’ve asked a man for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

3. I’ve set goals, achieved goals, and fell short of my goals.

4. I’ve watched my father weep when his father died.

5. I’ve gone to sleep lonely.

6. I’ve been blamed for things I didn’t do and absolved of things I did.

7. I’ve proposed to the woman of my dreams.

8. I’ve watched my best friend die in a tragic accident.

9. I’ve watched hundreds of sunrises (each uniquely different and special) in the solitude of nature.

10. I’ve bought cars, sold cars and lusted after cars.

11. I’ve gone to work when I didn’t want to, because my family needed me to.

12. I’ve been married to the same woman for more than 20 years. [Make that 25 years.]

13. I’ve moved more times than I can count, and been the new kid more times than I wanted.

14. I’ve held my wife after the doctor told us the baby inside her was dead.

15. I’ve witnessed the birth of my two children.

16. I’ve seen the terror of 9/11 first-hand when I lived in Washington D.C.

17. I’ve made money, and I’ve lost money.

18. I’ve stood in awe on my wedding day as my bride-to-be walked to me.

19. I’ve given the eulogy at my Mother’s funeral, [and Father’s funeral].

20. I’ve worked day shifts, afternoon shifts, and night shifts.

21. I’ve seen an NFL football game with my son.

22. I’ve made special memories with my wife.

23. I’ve ridden roller coasters with my daughter.

24. I’ve tent camped in good weather and when it was raining so hard we couldn’t stop laughing.

25. I’ve rented houses, bought houses, sold houses, and built houses.

26. I’ve designed and planted entire landscapes.

27. I’ve run a half-marathon.

28. I’ve ridden a motorcycle a-hundred-and-something mph.

29. I’ve made great friends along the way.

30. I’ve trained and hug out with NASA astronauts.

31. I’ve studied so hard I wondered if I would ever understand the topic.

32. I’ve disciplined my children when I didn’t have the energy or desire.

33. I’ve learned hard lessons the easy way, and easy lessons the hard way.

34. I’ve been dumped by a girl and told, “I just want to be friends.”

35. I’ve buried a dog I loved.

36. I’ve witnessed the miracle of 45 spring seasons and 45 fall seasons. [Make that 50].

37. I’ve watched tiny seeds grow into massive plants… with my children.

38. I’ve witnessed our dog giving birth to puppies.

39. I’ve daydreamed with my wife.

40. I’ve watched two space shuttle launches from inside the Launch Control Center.

41. I’ve watched Michael Jordan play basketball… with my Dad.

42. I’ve seen the President of the United States on several occasions.

43. I’ve ridden a motorcycle so far that my body ached… yet my soul screamed for joy.

44. I’ve taught my kids how to ride a bike.

45. I’ve taught my daughter [and my son] how to drive.

46. I’ve watched a Space Shuttle launch… with my Dad.

47. I’ve started small businesses.

48. I’ve played football with my son, and volleyball with my daughter.

49. I’ve planted small trees with my kids that are now 50 feet tall.

50. I’ve seen a U.S. Olympic team win a gold medal.

51. I’ve been so sad that I didn’t know if I could make it to another day.

52. I’ve walked barefoot on sugar-sand beaches.

53. I’ve done things I didn’t want to do, because I knew I needed to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I’m looking forward to be a granddad, an author, and a retiree with a lake house.

But if the good Lord takes me today, I’ve lived a great life.

Today, I’m filled with an inner peace that calms me. Tomorrow, who knows.