"MIDDLE": adjective. Equally distant from the extremes.
Colloquially, I am Middle-Aged; statistically, I will be alive for 29 more years. I am not at all in the middle; I am nearly two-thirds done.
I am not on this side anymore; I am now on that side.
Youth showers in anticipation: the "I can't wait," years; the "One day I will," years; the "I'll show you," years.
Middle age bathes in reminiscence: "Do you remember..."; "I wonder what happened to..."; "This song transports me to..."
Generations parry and thrust as they compete to justify what music is relevant, which technologies are necessary, and how relationships are to be conducted. Each dueler defending their philosophies as if they were not entirely subjective, which, of course, they are. Our passions are not rooted in reality, but rather in nostalgia.
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is not a seminal album, it is 10-year-old me sitting on my cousin's carpet, surrounded in musical wonder.
Star Wars is not groundbreaking science fantasy, it is 7-year-old me discovering a plastic toy left for me by my older brother outside my bedroom door.
Chain restaurant pizza is not a gourmet meal, it is a reminder of how I hid with friends, temporarily escaping my parents' quarrels.
Observing my children as they strive and tussle through school, I am constantly reliving, regretting, and re-evaluating my youth. I endlessly ruminate on past grade school sins: crimes of the heart, crimes of the body, and crimes of the spirit. We could be so joyful and yet so cruel.
Obstacles that then seemed insurmountable - like studying and homework - I now realize were gifts, that could have paid rich dividends: dividends to the heart, and to the body and to the spirit.
The body is performing relatively well - though several thousand follicles have fled the scene. Touches of arthritis are raconteurs of an athletic youth, but also motivate my perpetual motion, and remind me of the cost of remaining still.
My mind only wanders, unlike my parents' which are in decay - perhaps another web of motivation and warning of a future genetic inheritance.
Age has provided me with security of personality - though that is a work in progress. I feel I have amassed wisdom to impart, patience to listen, and (more gradually) confidence to express myself - which often means making understood the importance I place on periods of solitude.
Longevity runs in my family. Aunts, uncles and cousins have explained how fifty will seem young when I am sixty; as sixty will when I am seventy, and so on. That must be true, since it is through that lense that I see forty, and thirty, and twenty...and 7.
At fifty, I love making my wife and children laugh. At fifty, when I sit and talk to friends for hours in my living room, I remember being a little boy sitting on the upstairs landing trying maddeningly to understand how my parents could stand to sit and talk to their friends for hours.
I sound like my parents at least once a day when we touch on nutrition while standing in the kitchen, or on homework when loitering outside a bedroom, or on screen time and exercise while planted around the television.
I am sure they will be fine. (Pretty sure...nearly sure.
Please let them be fine.)
I am excited about grandchildren - though there is no guarantee. Is that, too, motivated by wanting to transplant my memories to a new era of nostalgia? To immerse myself in the scent of an infant, or to relive the joy of catching a toddler on a slide? Or for my hug to be needed as opposed to occasionally permitted?
I desperately don't want to degenerate. Loss of mobility, loss of cognitive function, loss of independence. Terrifying. Yes, decades in the future perhaps, but they are now on this side, as opposed to that side.
There is inspiration everywhere: my neighbours, my cousins, my friends, the online community, the running community, the world at large. People decades older than me achieving, conquering, and travelling. Living.
Thank you for being there for me in The Middle. Thank you for showing me what is possible for my future self. Thank you for reminding me that what is done is done, and how much joy lies ahead, one day at a time.