I only get to do this once, so I had better do it right

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I am 50 today. Fifty years of waking up breathing. Who knew? Not me. Here's how it looks to me, as of today.

Physically speaking, I'm pretty healthy - hale, hearty, up and at 'em - whatever phraseology you want to use. I can still hike up and down mountains with a pack on my back and put in my 12 or 15 miles.

But there's no use kidding myself. I'm well past halfway to dusty death. My skin is becoming inelastic. My hair is thinning out. My beard is shot with grey. I'm slower, take longer to heal and my wits are taking on a dull sheen.

Emotionally, I'm worn down to a nubbin. Not defeated, just tired. I could make the reasons for this much clearer, but there are parts of my life I have no intention sharing with ILx. If you had my life, you'd be tired, too.

If I have acquired any grounds for optimism, it's that I know my own worth by now. I'm like a well-made, well-worn hand tool with a handle burnished by use. There's a lot of good work left in me, if the world still has any interest in good work, which it often doesn't.

There's not as much profit to be wrung from my withered hams as there used to be. In that Darwinian sense, I'm expendable now. Fact.

There's still a lot of good love left in me, too, but I generally keep it in the family. They're the ones who will be there when I die. I'm not expendable to them.

Wish me a happy birthday. I won't be asking again.

Aimless (Aimless), Monday, 8 November 2004 06:54 (fifteen years ago) link

Holy fuck! I'm impressed. 50 years is a long time! Way to go! Keep up the good work. Happy birthday.

Huk-L, Monday, 8 November 2004 07:00 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't have your life, but I'm tired as well, for any number of reasons.

Happy birthday, though. May you have fifty more.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:05 (fifteen years ago) link

"Impressed" is not the word I'd use. Um... nor the tone. I might use "respect," though, since at 50, you're officially my elder.

Read this book, plz. Tell me what you think of it. I read it when I was 25, and didn't understand, and was told by a mentor that I would understand in another 25 years.

Kenan (kenan), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Jesus, dude. Congrats!

Remy (x Jeremy), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday. We don't talk a lot but some of your posts about HARD TIMES are among the wisest shits I've ever read. Respect for that. I'm exactly half your age but already so tired, guilty, feeling like passing whatever tiny abstract creative 'torch' I have in me to good beautiful people in my life who'll be less irresponsible with it.

LeCoq (LeCoq), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:11 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday Mr. Aimless, from one geezer to another. Don't give up the hiking, and remember, 50 is the new 30, so I am told.

jim wentworth (wench), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:13 (fifteen years ago) link

Love you all, but I'm guessing that when someone who's turning 50 takes it as an opportunity to say that his life has been hard, that's not a cue for 25-yr-olds to jump in and say their lives have been hard, too.

Kenan (kenan), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:14 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birthday and congratulations.

isadora (isadora), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:16 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, happy birthday. You're a good one.

Kenan (kenan), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah Kenan I didn't mean to take it as a selfish cue to vent my own shit, really I just wanna give respect to Aimless for often saying really wise things I think I'm too cool to thank him for. My bad.

LeCoq (LeCoq), Monday, 8 November 2004 07:24 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birfday!

kingfish (Kingfish), Monday, 8 November 2004 08:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Aww man, happy birthday dude!

PinXorchiXoR (Pinkpanther), Monday, 8 November 2004 09:20 (fifteen years ago) link

A very happy birthday to you. Great post.

Penelope_111 (Penelope_111), Monday, 8 November 2004 09:43 (fifteen years ago) link

My dad is unbelievably good at DIY, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, you name it. So in in the morning of his 50th he was using a circular saw on the floor of my room, and cut into the pipes, spraying my room (by his standards a rooky mistake). Then later on that day he was leaning on a radiator, and switching it off, he leant to far and cracked a rib. So as long as it goes off beter than that you are doing o.k.
Happy Birthday

lukey (Lukey G), Monday, 8 November 2004 09:47 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birthday aimless.

cºzen (Cozen), Monday, 8 November 2004 10:17 (fifteen years ago) link


Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 8 November 2004 10:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday. Have a good year.

beanz (beanz), Monday, 8 November 2004 10:56 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday Aimless. If you're aimless, then what must us nippers be like?

Markelby (Mark C), Monday, 8 November 2004 11:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Have a very happy birthday. x

Cathy (Cathy), Monday, 8 November 2004 11:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Many happy returns of the day sir, all Ormskirk will drink in your honour this evening.

Matt (Matt), Monday, 8 November 2004 11:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday and much respect. You replied to my very first post with sound advice which I acted upon. Thanks. And many more happy birthdays for you!

Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Monday, 8 November 2004 11:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday!

caitlin (caitlin), Monday, 8 November 2004 13:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday indeed sir -- yer a good sort, and knowing that the family is there for you (and vice versa) is always a comfort.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 8 November 2004 14:03 (fifteen years ago) link

You are a wise man, dude. If I can offer anything, I would just like to point out that there is NOTHING expendable about the sort of wisdom that comes through in the things you post in this virtual space. So I say, don't regret the half-century mark, REJOICE! A birthday man is you!

"The thing I love about getting older is, the birthday cake tastes better and better every year." - my mother

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 8 November 2004 14:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday to you (and to me too, I'm 41 today). Your sentiments sound almost exactly like mine -- it must be something about us November Eighters.

the apex of nadirs (Rock Hardy), Monday, 8 November 2004 15:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy Birthday, Aimless.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 8 November 2004 15:19 (fifteen years ago) link


The Ghost of Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Monday, 8 November 2004 15:32 (fifteen years ago) link

The pleasant clunk of leather on willow is followed by a ripple of applause around the ground as we congratulate you on achieving your half-century. Well done sir!

Madchen (Madchen), Monday, 8 November 2004 15:41 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birthday aimless! I love your posts!

teeny (teeny), Monday, 8 November 2004 16:48 (fifteen years ago) link

Thank you all for the good wishes. I appreciate them. Let me scatter a few comments in reply, in no particular order.

Madchen, astoundingly, I 'get' the allusion. Thank goodness I've read Wodehouse.

Kenan, if your mentor declined to explain Steppenwolf to you, then I must fall in line with that judgement. It might be right or it might be wrong, but I'm not going to step in middle. Apart from that, the 'respect' duly received and appreciated.

Le Coq and nickalicious, thank you for calling me wise. Inuit women soften rawhide by chewing on it, so eventually it can be made into articles of use and beauty. Life has been chewing on me long enough that I'm almost soft enough to make something of.

Rumpy Pumpkin, I am glad my advice proved sound. It must have been in regard to a subject where I know which end is up. This is not always true.

apex of nadirs, happy birthday back at yer! I have a great fondness for November 8 and all its manifestations.

Matt, I'll raise a glass Ormskirkward. Do not fall into any ditches. You might hurt whoever is down there already.

Casuistry, my reaction to your wish for 'fifty more' is OH NO! OH NO! That's one briar patch I genuinely don't want to be thrown into. Not unless I can acquire a harem of adoring 70 year olds to fawn over me.

Huk, I impress myself. I'm glad to see I am not entirely alone in this regard.

One thing that is nice about the Internet is that I can mingle with ILxers without anyone being concious of the age difference. Well, that is to say, I am concious of it when I thumb through the thousands of posts devoted to mating rituals and their convolutions, and the thousands of other posts devoted to the tribal identifications of the current youth culture. But that's really incidental and unimportant.

Being here helps to remind me that I had learned just about everything I needed to know at age 25. From there on out it was just a matter of navigation and application, trying to keep the boat afloat and get somewhere - when the only map you've got is a picture in your head you half-doubt you ever got a good look at.

Fifty years of waking up breathing - it's a gift. I've got my share of sorrows, but thank god no regrets. Thanks again, everyone.

Aimless (Aimless), Monday, 8 November 2004 17:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday, Aimless.

Leon the Fratboy (Ex Leon), Monday, 8 November 2004 17:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday Aimless! (x-post argh, owned!)

Pashmina (Pashmina), Monday, 8 November 2004 17:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Congratulations & happiness, Aimless.

briania (briania), Monday, 8 November 2004 17:43 (fifteen years ago) link

Hip hip hooray for Aimless! On his magical birthing day!

jel -- (jel), Monday, 8 November 2004 17:45 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy birthday Aimless. Every day is precious, even with inelastic skin.

Orbit (Orbit), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:03 (fifteen years ago) link

Happy Birthday!!!
p.s. I really enjoy all your posts. You are a wise man.

oops (Oops), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:08 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birthday.

you don't seem too old.

RJG (RJG), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:09 (fifteen years ago) link

rock on aimless dude
keep the five oh thrizzy sane
let yr beard grow long

Begs2Differ (Begs2Differ), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:36 (fifteen years ago) link

To one of the wisest, funniest, and most poetastic posters every to grace this and other fora, I wish the most felicitous semicentennial to our most ornamental quinquagenarian.

Michael White (Hereward), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Happiest of Birthdays, Aimless!

Sarah McLusky (coco), Monday, 8 November 2004 19:18 (fifteen years ago) link

happy birthday!

miccio (miccio), Monday, 8 November 2004 20:14 (fifteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

About to turn 60 on Saturday. My age now seems to me like an unconscionable pile of years. My childhood is so far behind me now it seems almost completely effaced by time and weariness.

The best thing I can say report is that my health is excellent for a being of my advanced age. Not like those prodigies who swim the English Channel at 60, but very encouraging nonetheless. I can still carry a pack up a steep trail almost as well as I did 30 years ago. I just pace myself differently.

However, I am old enough now that I can see over the horizon to where I shall eventually leave ordinary adulthood behind me and enter some new epoch that is more about staying alive than anything else. Thank goodness I am not there, yet, but it feels real to me in ways it didn't ten years ago. You may soon look forward to me posting daily reports on ilx about the state of my bowels and joints. When I do, you may all just FP me out of my misery. I'll understand.

oh no! must be the season of the rich (Aimless), Friday, 7 November 2014 02:07 (five years ago) link

Happy birthday and anniversary!

carl agatha, Friday, 7 November 2014 03:03 (five years ago) link

Happy birthday, you eminence grise!

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Friday, 7 November 2014 03:04 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

I'm 65 today! uh, whoopee?

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 9 November 2019 03:40 (six months ago) link

Happy birthday old man!!

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Saturday, 9 November 2019 03:41 (six months ago) link

happy birthday aimless! your op in itt is very, very good by the way. hope you've enjoyed your big day, you deserve it

at home in the alternate future, (Karl Malone), Saturday, 9 November 2019 04:23 (six months ago) link

yes, happy birthday!

Dan S, Saturday, 9 November 2019 04:26 (six months ago) link

Happy birthday, Aimless

Brad C., Saturday, 9 November 2019 05:01 (six months ago) link

happy birthday, aimless!

estela, Saturday, 9 November 2019 06:48 (six months ago) link

very happy birthday to you

deems of internment (darraghmac), Saturday, 9 November 2019 10:30 (six months ago) link

Happy Birthday !

Hoping there's many more trails.

Luna Schlosser, Saturday, 9 November 2019 12:01 (six months ago) link

happy birthday Aimless!

Joe Kulak 😎 (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 9 November 2019 12:10 (six months ago) link

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