51 Years Old Is Just A Crappy 50

And other observations around my birthday

Complicated is what I would call my life right now. And when I say complicated, I mean that in more ways than I can count on two hands, life sucks. 2019 has been a bad year for many reasons, and I hate having to use one of my old-guy birthdays to mark the passing of 12 months of shitshows and psychotic episodes.

I never liked celebrating my birthday anyway because it only reminds me that I have one less year of life left. Soon, I’ll be bedridden, and someone will have to chew my food and wipe my butt. That is if there is anyone around who still likes me.

Holy damn, this is depressing! Let’s switch gears!

Even though right now I feel like dog shit, I’m going to remember all the things that make life worth living.

The past eight years have been a growing experience with a woman I love very much. And while that love is not promised to last and could blow away like sand on a sidewalk, I’ll hold these years in my heart and be happy for us because at least I had them to remember. Like reality, true love is a façade — a matrix. True love would like you to believe it will last forever, but it lies about how long it will be around.

I have five wonderful children, from 30 years old down to 3 months. While I haven’t always been the model father, I did try the best I could with the challenges I lived. I still have the two youngest with me, but my three boys are in the wind living their lives the best they can. I don’t get to talk to them much, and I hope when they think of me, they have fond memories.

My mother and father are still both alive at 75. I’m thankful to have them, but we rarely talk as I live 8500 miles away in the Philippines. I’m the last remaining child as my brother died in 2011. I can’t help but wonder if they are proud of me. I didn’t follow them in their religion, and I know it’s a disappointment for both of them. I know they don’t care that I’m not rich or famous. I hope when they think of me, they remember a good son who loved his parents with his whole heart.

Although money problems plague us and take some of the joy out of life, we do have a roof over our heads. We eat every day, and never have to worry where the next meal is coming from. We have clothing, we have internet, and our daughter goes to a good school. We shouldn’t complain but do because we haven’t figured out how to be happy with what we have and not worry about what we don’t. If we could be happy about life and not about stuff, things would be perfect.

This family has very little time, but in some ways, it’s a blessing. When you are busy, you appreciate a short nap in the afternoon, or just sitting at the table drinking coffee, talking about future days when we can be fancy-free. Time is a construct, and for someone who is not even sure if what we perceive as reality is real, I sure spend a lot of time as a slave to 24 hours.

I woke this morning and walked outside to see what kind of damage our puppy had done to the yard. The air was cool and hadn’t yet started smelling like humans because they were all asleep and not burning, or driving, or polluting. I smiled a little to myself because I would never have dreamed I’d have the opportunity to live somewhere fantastic like the Philippines. America is great, and all the travel I did in the big 50 was wonderful, but there is something special about getting out of your backyard and smelling new smells and tasting new air. I’ve been here eight years, and although we will soon leave this place, I’ll never forget how it changed me for the better.

I never thought I would hear myself say I’m thankful for good health, but I am. Sure, my mental health is hideous, and I can’t imagine it being worse, but there is always worse. What if I was unlucky enough to have physical problems as well? What if instead of aches and pains I had heart trouble and cancer. It could be worse, and I have to be thankful that I don’t have any more on my plate than I already do.

The latest news is that we will soon be residents of the great United States. But I’m worried. My wife chooses not to believe me when I tell her about the dark side of America. We now live in a place where my daughter can go in the street and play with her friends, and I don’t have to worry about abduction. My wife can go out by herself, and I don’t have to worried she will be harassed by a man or raped. My family can walk around and not worry about being tackled by an ICE agent because they are brown. They don’t experience racism, but I know they will in the States and it makes me despair. I love America, but I didn’t miss the slimy underbelly when I left for eight years.

See, I have a lot to be thankful for, but do you notice I always find the rotten seed in the sweet tender flesh? I can take something completely joyful and turn it into the worst experience of my life.

I wish I didn’t do that.

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Birthdays. I’ll be glad when the clock strikes 12:01 on the 24th because I have another year to try to make things better than they were, not worse. The past few years have been bad, and I’m ready to walk an upward slope for once.

In 2020, can I finally see success with my writing? Can I get out of the hole and stop living check-to-check? Will I finally stop worrying that everyone I love will leave me? Can my family and I finally be happy with what we have instead of always wishing for more?

A new year of my life means new possibilities.

I can only hope they will be better than what I have now.

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Writer | Essayist | Video Content Creator | Future member of the two-comma club | Dreamer - I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up.

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