My Future at Fifty One

2024 > America

Fifty-one years ago, I came screaming into this world. By some cultures, that makes me 52 today. Either way, I don’t feel a half-century old. I certainly don’t think of myself as 51. That is until I see a selfie of some old guy who looks like me.

Then I remember the many orbits around the sun I’ve made, and I wonder which of my decades I enjoyed the most?

Was it the early decade, before I was 10, that is all but a blur to me now? Of memories told to me by others, reinforced by photographs, of the South Pacific, South America, and the Southwest USA. I know I lived out of a backpack for most of this time, but other details escape me.

Could it be the next decade, my teens, when I did all manner of smart and stupid things growing up in South Florida? I remember many escapades, and thankfully I cannot remember all, as I came of age on the beach, in the sun, and swinging a hammer.

My twenties were wild. I moved to the big city, DC, and then to Russia, China, and other countries, as I married, divorced, and lived life to to the fullest. A clear memory – looking at a magazine page I’d torn out and saved that listed all the key dance club cities in the world. I’d been to most of them by 27.

In my thirties, I settled down as a husband, father, and homeowner. I came into myself then, confident in who I am and what I do. At least, that’s how I feel now, looking back on my younger self. I don’t remember anything but pure scrambling to do the right thing at the time.

The last decade, my forties, was invested in building on the activities of my thirties. I raised kids, amassed (modest) wealth, and built a strong family, community, and career. I like to think of it like that anyway. If I hand a mid-life crisis that decade, then the stress of COIVD surely erased that indulgence.

Now I look forward to the next twenty or thirty years I’ll get in this life – God willing. What will I do now? What is next for me? The near-term is easy. For this decade I have teens to raise and guide into the world. A loving wife that will hold my hand. Home and health to protect.

But what then? In the decade hence of my sixties. What does one do once children are adults? Once work has retired? Once we are free to rediscover the joys of youth wasted on the young? If I am so lucky to have many retirement years to navel-gaze, what will I see? What will I find? Do I want it to be found?

A few questions I ponder at fifty-one. Might you have answers? Cheers if you do!

wayan at 51

One Comment on “My Future at Fifty One

  1. Wayan—

    Your comments took me back me back a few years—to 1993, when I was 45. We lived in Beaverton, Oregon, near Portland. I had been in the Army three years and afterwards worked for Bonneville Power Administration. During that time I got a Bachelors Degree, had a career in technology…including the emerging Internet. And our daughter was about to graduate college and head out on our own.

    My wife and I had both traveled overseas a couple times—to the Middle East—Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt, and we loved it. So we sought out jobs at USAID so we could be engaged in the international space, and moved to the WDC area in . We loved it, got to travel some and I got a Masters Degree from GWU.

    Then in 1999, when I was 51, I had the opportunity to retire early from the Federal Government. I recall over several weeks spending hours at the local coffee shop, down at the beach, sitting on park benches, staring into space, etc.., thinking through what I’d like to do.

    The conclusion to my meditations was pretty simple: I’d like to be an independent contractor and wander around our planet and expand telecommunications into the lesser-developed countries of our planet. I was able to get a couple contracts put in place even before leaving USAID—walking out on a Friday and heading off to Morocco the following week, then to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, DRC, Egypt…the list continued to expand. I helped USAID develop the Last Mile Initiative (LMI), and later the Global Broadband and Innovation (GBI) program, and worked on initiatives from the White House, the State Department, etc.

    Being that my work was all under contract, I didn’t have to live in the WDC area, so when my wife retired from USAID in 2004, we moved back to Oregon…where we currently live in the vacation-retirement community of Sunriver. I did have an apartment in WDC for a couple years to get the GBI Program launched.

    Around 2015 I decided to start cycling down. And in 2017 I had my last paid trip out to Singapore to speak at an ASEAN regional telecom event. I was 70 years old. Now really retired as I look out our front window at the golf course. We still love to travel.

    All that to say…you’re only getting started…got a lot of road miles left in you if you want to pursue your interests further.

    Darrell

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