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Fifty is the New Thirty-Five

Middlesex Fells in Autumn

This past Sunday was my fiftieth birthday. I’m not comfortable with birthdays, but this one is seemed even more uncomfortable than usual.

I was pleased however when my sister called me and told me that “fifty is the new thirty-five.” That cheered me right up, because I don’t feel like I’m over the hill.

Then my father, who’s about to turn 90, told me that he doesn’t feel like he’s 89. That put things into perspective. He’s still incredibly active and he assured me that I’ve got his genes.

My wife, who knows me better than anyone else, got me a bunch of presents. In addition to some fine Sauternes, she gave me $1,000 that I can put toward recreational education and training. That’s a perfect gift for me since I make a habit of taking courses in all kinds of activities quite often. Things like sea kayaking, kendo, mountaineering, fiddle, blues guitar, white water kayaking, rock climbing, yoga, home brewing, buddhism, pilates, flower arrangement and wilderness first aid. The list goes on.

If there’s one thing I’ve done well in my life, it’s been trying lots of different things. It’s probably no coincidence that I started trying all of these activities when I was thirty-five and realized that being a workaholic and constantly striving for success was an empty future.

So what’s next? Expect more of the same, I say. Being unpredictable and non-categorizable remains my passion. When I become set in my ways, well then I’ll become old.


  1. Congratulations, Philip! I live by the principle that you're as old as you feel, and I still do feel still very young. Enjoy the courses, your trip to Scotland, continue backpacking and I am sure you will reach the spectacular age your dad has =)

  2. Many happy returns, Philip! I hope you enjoyed your birthday, and I'm sure you'll enjoy all that this year has to offer as well.

    Here's to unpredictability & adventure!

  3. Hope you continue to celebrate. 50 was a great turning point for me. I have spent a good part of the decade rediscovering what I love.

    Someone said to me that you don't regret the hours you didn't get to spent at the office when you are dying.

    Congratulations and best wishes!

  4. Wow! Happy birthday! I have just recently started reading your blog, and I must say that you don't seem like a fifty year old! I am approaching 35, myself and am attempting to open myself up to new experiences, starting with backpacking with my kids. I am looking forward to years of fun backpacking and, well, ANY of that other things that you listed!

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for being an inspiration!

  5. Yo, bro! So glad my age-related insight hit the right spot. May you enjoy this time immensely!

    love, Karen

  6. Congratulations,,just turned 60 myself and what a long strange trip it has been!

    I'm celebrating by replacing all my Backpacking gear, from packs to spoons to sock to boots to tents….I do this every ten years anyhow…I will be section hiking the Pinhoti Trail starting next month…

    I keep very active and got rid of the TV when I retired a few years ago, but don't believe Treadmill Tests you fail them if you have a Heart Attack otherwise they reveal absolutely nothing as far as say an 80% blockage goes..,,a dye test with Ultrasound finds the problems not the Treadmill…

    So keep on keeping on!

  7. Happy 50. Heck you are a young Challenger. Average age on that is high.

  8. I love that you learned at 35 that chasing work isn't worth it. I just turned 35 and am doing the same thing. Happy Birthday!

  9. Well done old fella! Happy birthday. Tis all a state of mind. I know a lot of old 50yo people and a lot of young 70 year olds.

    keep doing what you are doing and you will live to 100 (unless you croak it on a mountain somewhere and they what's it matter, you were doing something you love.)

    I read a fantastic blog yesterday about a lady who took her 73yo Dad hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal – inspirational! http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/tag/tiger-balm-tal

  10. I met a number of 70+ year old youngsters on the PCT near Big Bear a few years ago, they were in amazing shape, They sectioned hiked at least twice a month… I believe in the theory "use it or lose" or "Sit and Die" or the equation.."R=T=ED"!

    Retirement = Television= Early Death

    Happy Birthday… Oh I had four Treadmills dones and passed everyone of them, then a month later the pain hit..Got two stents then and two years later another Stent…not that I trying to scare you but ya gotta be careful after 50..Your body is out to kill you!

  11. Happy Birthday to you!!! You need a big number to contain all the "character" you keep building!

  12. Thanks for all the good wishes. dear friends and new.

  13. Philip,

    First of all I wanted to wish you a happy birthday!

    I was also wondering what you did when you decided that the office was enough? I'm only 30 but I'm not happy that all the work I do is never enough even if I'm at 190% of my goals for this quarter. I believe I don't spend enough time with my family, enough time hiking but I don't know what to do because I still need to bring bread bach home.

    Thanks for your blog I enjoy reading it everytime you post.


  14. Marriage counseling. Seriously. My wife made me learn how to listen to her. That lead me to listen to myself and adjust my priorities to include other people and activities, including her, in my life. I owe her everything for that. It didn't happen overnight, but eventually I realized that work was just 8 hours a day. I still love work and I still get a big kick out of it, but I don't bring it home most nights.

  15. Fifty-schmifty. I celebrated my 50th birthday by bicycling over 9,000 miles around the perimeter of the country. Self-supported. Alone. I didn't even start living until I was over 40. You're right about not getting set in your ways…that's the way to stay young!

  16. Happy birthday! But wait a minute, does that mean that your birthday is on February 28th? If so we share the same birthday AND I turned 40 the same day and was having some similar thoughts about significant milestones in age. The way I see it, you're as young or old as you feel. Keep rocking!

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