Point of No Return: Numbers do not lie — a major milestone looms

In respect to my horrendous skills at all things mathematics, let’s just go ahead and round the number to 350.

In about 350 days, or 8,400 hours, or 504,000 minutes, I will become 50 years old. One half of one full century. To put that in perspective, a dog born the same time as I was would equate to being roughly 343 years old — approximately the same age as Keith Richards or the unfortunate gas-station meatball sandwich I ate last year while driving through North Carolina.

There’s really no getting around it: The years are beginning to creep up on me. And, actually, “creep” probably wouldn’t even be the most accurate word. Let’s go with “full frontal assault.”

Like most people, there was a time when I thought I was invincible. I made it through a combat tour in the desert, bouts of questionable judgement regarding alcohol and people three times my size, ticking off my mother on a more-than-recommended level and drinking out of strangers’ garden hoses while I cut through their yards on the way to whatever ridiculous adventure I found myself getting into as a youth. I would rip down steep hills on my skateboard without a serious plan of how to stop myself, jump out of tall trees as part of teen-testosterone-fueled dares and basically just agree to any and all hair-brained ideas that were floated in my general direction.

Now I feel the need to formulate a plan on how to best walk into the bathroom in the middle of the night without tripping over a quarter and potentially falling and breaking my hip.

The struggle is real, folks. I remember being a kid and watching my father wrestle with bending over to tie his shoes after shooting hoops with me for an hour and thinking, “Good Lord. This man is falling apart.” Now I look back on those days and think, “Wow. He was hardcore. He had the audacity to have laces on his shoes back then. I wear flip-flops most days I’m not at work so I don’t have to put myself at risk of ending up in traction over torn back muscles by trying to put on socks.”

Of course, what you lose in physical abilities, you most-certainly gain in...

What was I talking about?

Ah, yes. Experience. The older we get, the more we learn, right? For instance, I now know that it just doesn’t make any sense in the world to stay up until 3:30 a.m. if I have to work the next morning. In fact, the only times I see 3:30 now are when I’m waking up early for deadline or I have to safely navigate myself past a quarter on the floor to make it into the bathroom.

This more experienced version of Darin tells me that eating a sausage-and-peppers sandwich for dessert is a recipe for later disaster, and that the express line at the grocery store is not always the fastest option. I’ve learned that “happy wife, happy life” might be the truest statement made throughout the pages of history, and that a 3-year-old child simply does not accept “maybe later” as an adequate response.

So, yeah, I’ve learned a few things over the years, boys and girls, but I’ve also...

What was I talking about?

Right. Right. Right. I sometimes forget things now a little more than I did, say, 10 years ago. Fortunately, I remain a chronic list-maker, so I usually get through my work chores without much drop-off, but the day-to-day things are a little more difficult to recall — i.e., what I had for lunch; who I’m supposed to call back when I get done with dinner; what time I put the ice cream in the microwave and the popcorn in the freezer. You know, typical stuff.

I guess it’s the trade-off with age. What you gain in experience, you lose in...

What was I talking about?

Right. Trade-offs. Becoming a first-time father at the age of 45 had its own advantages and disadvantages. As an advantage, 45-year-old me was much more stable, mature and patient than my 25-year-old version. As a disadvantage, 25-year-old me had a lot more energy than the 45-year-old version, and while playtime with my younger edition would have included running around the beach and playing pirates on top of the living room furniture, playtime with my 45-year-old self was more about, “Hey, let’s eat granola, wash it down with a nice fiber drink and watch another episode of ‘Golden Girls.’”

So, yeah, she kind of got the short straw on that deal.

But instead of running around over the next 504,000 minutes trying to check things off a bucket list before I hit the big 5-0, I’m going to just enjoy the ride a little bit. The fact is, when I do hit that milestone — if, indeed, I’m fortunate enough to hit that milestone — I’ll look at it as a real accomplishment.

In fact, there will be a few coaches and teachers that will owe me quite a bit of money from bets they made with my younger self that I’d never reach that decade. I just wish I’d have written them down. I can’t seem to remember who they were or how much they bet or...

What was I talking about?

By Darin J. McCann
Executive Editor