A Pirate Looks At 50


Any attempts at autobiography before the age of eighty seem pretty self-involved to me. There are a lot of smart middle-aged people, but not a whole lot of wise ones... –Jimmy Buffett

You have a lot of time to your­self when you run; a lot of time to think. I was on a ten miler this morn­ing, which meant I had well over an hour alone with myself.  Today– of all days– seems like a good point for a crit­i­cal self-examination, and for a prob­ing self judg­ment. And a run is a good time to go intro­spec­tive… a good time to see if I pass or if I fail.

I have not been look­ing for­ward to the big 5–0. As I approached the half-century mark, I saw more of a mill­stone than a mile­stone loom­ing. Two, three, four months ago, I just wanted time to stop; I did not want to turn 50, and I was afraid of this day. And then I sort of stopped think­ing about it. Now that this day is here, it is sim­ply here. No good cast, no bad cloud; it just is. Per­haps I have mel­lowed a lot over the last cou­ple weeks, per­haps I have changed a lot with­out really notic­ing. But today is no longer a day of dread… it just is. And I am fine with that. That was my first major real­iza­tion today.

I am headed down 7800 now, run­ning down­hill. I pick up speed, but I don’t have to con­cen­trate on it– I am on auto pilot. I have done this road before, I know the dips and the cracks. So let’s look at my fifty years. I look at where I am today– right now– ver­sus where I might have been, where I was, and what I have been.

Even (or espe­cially) against where I was even a month ago, I see how lucky I have been. The past month has been very good to me. (Maybe this is why today is no longer filled with dread, a small voice reminds). My daugh­ter has got­ten into a very good school, and we can afford to send her there. I have got­ten a job that pays well, has great ben­e­fits, and allows me the hours to train and to work with Tori. But over my 50 years, how much more lucky can a per­son get?

It goes with­out say­ing how blessed I am with my fam­ily– a lov­ing wife, and a beau­ti­ful, intel­li­gent daugh­ter. My whole fam­ily is great,kind and lov­ing. They have put up with me more than they should and for­given me when they prob­a­bly did not want to.

And in life, I have been able to do much more than one per­son should. I have met Pres­i­dents and peas­ants, trav­eled to the South Seas and Mediter­ranean islands, Paris and Provence. I have been lucky enough to be there every day to watch my daugh­ter grow up. I have been lucky enough to be involved with a group of extremely tal­ented young women who gra­ciously allow me to share the stage with them. I could go on, but it is suf­fi­cient to say I have had more than my share of good times and pro­found experiences.

As I round 7th West (and nearly get hit by a woman in a black Jetta), I decide that these are all well and good, but there is one thing I am truly rich in: friends. I find mak­ing friends easy– it is one of my favorite sports. I must be good at choos­ing them, because I have found so many good ones. Again, peo­ple who put up with my quirks, but unlike my fam­ily, peo­ple who do not have to. That says some­thing about all of them, I think.

But they have all taught me and helped me along my path to fifty. They have all added to me, and made me a bet­ter per­son. I hope that I reflect their bet­ter qual­i­ties back, too.

A lot of ran­dom thoughts I have had in the last week coa­lesced; a lot of my dread and fear melted away. Maybe I have mel­lowed, maybe that is what turn­ing 50 is all about. Maybe it is about not let­ting those things you can do noth­ing about bother you, maybe it is (God for­bid!) grow­ing up, but I do feel a change, recent and deep rooted.

Fifty is a mile­stone, no mat­ter what I want to think. To prove to myself I am still wor­thy, I will take on the St. George Marathon in a month and a half. As I pass Green Oak– still headed north, mind you– I know I can do that, that I can fin­ish 26 miles. I beat my ten-year-old Bur­ley Triathlon time hand­ily this year, I am in good shape phys­i­cally. Today’s run seems to be set­tling me mentally.

I notice one more thing from the last month. At every turn, at every point some­thing good is hap­pen­ing to me, I am pre­sented with an oppor­tu­nity to give back, to vol­un­teer back to my com­mu­nity, my city, or our school. I feel that these oppor­tu­ni­ties are not ran­dom or chance, there is a def­i­nite rea­son­ing behind them; I feel the mes­sage to me is that it is my time to give. And so as I look back, I also decide to look for­ward; my next 50 years will be more about giv­ing of myself than what I can take.

As I round the right at 5300 South, the sun is ris­ing. I can feel it its warmth on my legs; it feels good as a pour on a quick burst of speed down toward the park­way. The morn­ing started with a chill but now is quite pleas­ant; It has been a good run. My brains feels as clear and light as the early morn­ing sky, and my legs just keep mov­ing on their own. And I know this magic moment, this con­ver­sa­tion with myself  is now over, because I can see the end in my minds eye. There are no more words, just a sin­gle image. Again, it is a friend I have to thank for even know­ing about this… so thank you Steve. The only proper way to sum­ma­rize my fifty years is with the sim­ple three words that adorn Ed Wynn’s grave:

Dear God:

         Thanks…

Dear God: Thanks...

Dear God: Thanks…

Rat­ing 3.00 out of 5

About Dave Koch

Father, writer, entrepreneur, web coder, 2008 Presidential candidate, husband and friend. Sometimes I play guitar.
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6 Responses to A Pirate Looks At 50

  1. kim says:

    Oh, happy day! Know­ing you is a plea­sure, Dave.

  2. Mark Vaz says:

    Dave,

    Glad to hear you’re tak­ing all this in stride. Your reflec­tions have given me pause to think; as I will be turn­ing 47 in less than 2 months and am fast-approaching my own half-century.

    I actu­ally started a blog like this a few months back but I’ve been lax in doing any­thing pro­duc­tive with it. I should prob­a­bly give it another shot very soon…

  3. Ken G says:

    Mak­ing friends is a sport to you? I’ve never been so insulted! But, what the heck, I for­give you. Again. :^)

    Great essay, and hav­ing passed this marker myself a few weeks ago, I think your rev­e­la­tion is pretty spot on: This day is just a day. It’s what you make of all the days that counts.

    Last month, when we were with John up north, we came to the con­clu­sion that any­body under fifty is just a know-nothing, snot-nosed, young punk anyway.

  4. PEGUES Jerome says:

    Well Dave !! 12 years that we are friends .. and yes it’s easy to be friend with you and when we remem­ber our story it was not a sport but a funny game ( you send me one bot­tle of wine .. i send one back … you send 3 more … i send 3 more too … yes .. we were two kids play­ing … Walt Dis­ney said ” all start with a mousse … for us it’s ” all start with a fig­urine of the Walt Dis­ney Clas­sic Col­lec­tion ” to con­clude it’s a great honor to meet you and be one of your friends… and 50 !! it’s only a num­ber … i know that you have only 18 in France … and 21 in USA !!!!!! so you can drink !!!!!! Joyeux Anniversaire

  5. Thank you, I’ve been hunt­ing for info about this sub­ject for ages and yours is the best I have dis­cov­ered so far.

  6. I am reach­ing the great 5–0. As I reflect upon my life, I have found that I let days pass by as years go through, never really think­ing I was get­ting older, always young at heart.
    Until one day, I could not read the fine print in a map I car­ried in my car. I was shocked and went to see an optometrist asap. I was told it was a nor­mal part of aging and it is going to get worse. Aging? I never thought of aging.

    Then white hair started to streak.…had to use hair dyes… then peo­ple told me I looked less than 21 years.… Really?!!

    The tri­als and triumphs.… !!

    Thank you God is a great way to sum it all!

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