Back in May of 2014, I wrote a somewhat humorous post on the angst of turning 49.  Some 8 months later, I now sit 119 days away from turning 50 and the angst is still very real.  Considering that most of my friends and associates are about the same age, this is a conversation that I have had on numerous occasions.  Inevitably, the “age is just a number” comment comes into play.  As does, “you are only as old as you feel.”  To which I say, “bullshit”!

Despite what nonsense people spout, 50 is not the new 40.  50 is 50 and it has a psychological impact on you whether you admit it or not.  My mind is too curious to carry on about my day, about my life as if nothing changes when that half-century mark hits.  I want to know what to expect both physically and emotionally in the months and years that follow.  I hope that, in understanding the possible impact, I am better able to deal with the change in life.  The Man Up blog will chronicle my journey of discovery and neuroticism, my thought process and emotional vicissitudes from today until May 20 (the 50 mark).  I hope you will join me and share your experiences as well.

50For a lot of men, the concern of aging isn’t out of fear of getting old.  It’s a fear of losing potency.  The image of ourselves that we hold on to is one of a strapping young, virile man with energy and stamina for days and it does not jibe with the image that we see in the mirror.  The number 50 is a marker.  A midlife marker that distorts our self-image.  We’ve likely lived more than half of our lives with key markers along the way: finishing school; getting that first career job, pair bonding, child rearing etc. Those markers are ones that we expect and plan for.  For many, at least for me, 50 represents the unknown.  How will my career wind down?  What will I do in retirement?  Can I retire the way I want?  Do I have enough resources?  Will I be alone?  When will I be alone?  When will I lose virility?  That thing about 50 being the new 40 is so untrue.  At 40, you still have relatively young children, a good 25 years or so of work ahead of you,  perhaps even another career move, and many more things to accomplish.  With 50, the window becomes shorter.  Younger, more talented people enter the workplace with highly developed skills.  Your years of experience in the new technology environment becomes less valued.  Technology itself begins to slip away from you.  Your music choices become more nostalgic.  People start calling you “sir”.  Dinner out starts at 6 o’clock.  You’re in bed by 9 p.m.  Multivitamins, Ensure and adult diapers are on the horizon.

50 one


50 represents change and, for men, change is not growth.  For men, change represents the loss of something.  In this case, the loss of time, the loss of virility, the loss of potency, the loss of effectiveness.  I feel like I can still walk up to a young Mike Tyson and kick his ass…in my mind.  But it doesn’t reconcile with my cracking bones, aching feet and arthritic knuckles.  Yeah, 50 is screwing with me.  I’m not going to lie.

For me, 50 is going to be a time of self-reflection.  From what will I derive satisfaction?  How can I be a better lover?  A better father?  A greater contributor to life, community, and business.  I will learn to live with a new reality.  Cope with the aches and pains and mood swings.

Quite a bleak outlook, I know.  I also know that we have advantages over our fathers and grandfathers before us.  We have better healthcare so we are living longer and healthier.  We have more tools in the tool box like the internet and access to research, studies and articles.  Greater income to do more things and acquire more shit.  We also have an openness and willingness to talk about how we feel and what we are going through with our partners and friends.

In the weeks to come, I will dive deep into the abyss to discover what lies ahead for me over the next 10-15 years.  Perhaps I’ll learn a few things that will help me cope and better prepare or discover the secrets to juvenescence.  Or consider it all rejectamenta and just drink more wine.

If you’ve already crossed that marker, I’d love to hear about your experience.  If 50 is staring you in the face, I’d equally love to know your concerns, if any.

Until next time Hominids…keep it on the good foot!

10 thoughts on “The Road to 50 (Intro)

  1. I concur and I’m 50 six days infront of you. Lets drive on. We are in the “back nine” of life.

    1. The reason the “second half” of this game is so appealing to me, is that much like a football game where you trailed for most of the contest, committing turnover after turnover, stalled drives, all the while playing “injured”. It happens: you catch the quarterbacks lame attempt to look you off as he lofts a sure pass into the air … the opposing receiver again pushes off you, but you jump the route, and there’s nothing between you and the end zone! Until now, you’ve been down (only) 7 the entire game, but your “pick six” with 5 seconds remaining enables you to even the score! And what’s more, because you lost the opening coin toss, you get the ball back to start the second half with momentum on your side! !

      This is how I’m looking at “50”! The game is playing right into my hands. I’m a 49 year old Russell Wilson! !

      1. Joe, if I have any concerns at all, it would be to pay closer attention to my health, to ensure that I’m around to see the fruits of my labor (that being the prosperity of my daughters)… they are my motivation for living well, and living long!

  2. Yes, Joe and Dave, the back nine of life is a fitting analogy. And now that I’ve been 57 for a month, I think even more that the noise behind me is that of the younger foursomes demanding to play through! But we still have our smarts and our experience and wily ways to look forward still, find the green and still make some long putts. And I enjoy that ride at that moment. I think the best thing I’ve learned is that despite all the horrible job-related crap that life decided to heap upon me after 50, somehow it didn’t seem quite as awful as it would have at 30 or 40 because my wife is still beside me and the kids are awesome adults and the roof is over our head … At 50, my overall perspective for the big picture became sharper and my ability to enjoy the little things grew. I hope you can find that same sense of peace amid the angst, Joe.

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