I guess it is all a matter of perspective.
I am turning 50 in a few days and that is a big birthday.
It is one of those occasions where you look back at your life – sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a grimace.
You review the things you have done, the decisions you have made and how they got you to where you are today.
At 50, dead are the unattained dreams of your youth. When you are young, you could afford to dream big dreams, time was on your side and you believed, eventually, you would achieve those lofty goals.
But then something happens along the way: it's called life.
Circumstance changes, people leave your life while others come in to it. Careers take unexpected turns, priorities shift – even change direction all together – and one day you wake up and you are half a century old and you wonder where all that time went.
Your mind drifts back to 20, 30 years ago when the world was your oyster and to all the wonderful adventures you imagined were ahead of you.
Travelling the world, seeing exotic people and strange lands, but you need money to do that, and to make a decent living you need an education so those plans are put on hold for a while.
Then you meet an amazing woman and your priorities change.
Now you think of marriage, and children and the desires of an immature mind are replaced by the goals of a man who has a family to help take care of.
Marrying my wife was one of the smartest thing I have ever done, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Having children was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me and the joy my family has brought me is immeasurable.
But still, in the back of my mind is the longing for those long-gone dreams of my younger years. I suppose it is a '50 thing,' a bit of a mid-life kind of deal, where you yearn for your youth and the promises it held.
I have a tendency to focus on the negative, so it is easy to become melancholy about those fanciful dreams that, in all reality, probably weren't that realistic to begin with.
Now, you look ahead to what is coming: a body that is more flab than fab; fuzzy eyesight; arthritis; a decrease in strength and energy, aches and pains – it is a long list.
But there are good things coming as well. Walking my daughter down the aisle, having grandkids where I get to have all the fun of little children without the parental responsibility and dare I say retirement – future fun can be a pretty long list as well.
Like I said, it is all a matter of perspective and a very good friend of mine is helping me gain that perspective, even though I wish he wasn't.
My friend has cancer and the prognosis is not good.
He is a year older than I am and arthritis and failing eyesight are the least of his concerns.
His family is rallying around him, as are his friends and despite his circumstance he still smiles when he sees you, has a funny comment at the ready and can see the bright side of life.
My whining about forgotten dreams and goals suddenly seem pathetic things to mourn.
The real joy of life is family, friends and faith in a god who loves you.
I do not know what the future holds for my friend, I do not know how much time he has left. But do any of us really?
So as the big day looms, I will do my best to push aside those long gone dreams of my youth, and instead celebrate the many blessings I have been given and the joy my life holds.
Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh