As I write this in the early morning hours of August 19, 2016, I am anticipating my 20,000th sunrise. No, I have not actually watched 20,000 sunrises, but that’s how many times the Earth has spun around since I’ve been around. .
I was born on November 16, 1961. A few months ago, I had stumbled upon the concept of marking the 20,000th day. So, I found a handy calculator and determined that my 20,000th day would be on 8/19/16, fate willing. So, I marked today on my calendar. Happily, it is a Friday, and Linda was glad to join me in taking a vacation day.
I’ll save you the math – 20,000 days is a little more than 54 years and 9 months. But, this isn’t midlife crisis time for me. I did that 4 years ago. Over the course of a single year, I turned 50, celebrated 25 years of marriage, and marked 25 years of practicing law. And, we saw Eric, our youngest, graduate from high school and head to college. So, I thought that it was a good time to take measure of my life and think about what was next.
I enrolled in The Humanist Institute. I had become increasingly active with a local group and wanted to study Humanism in depth. So, I went to Washington, DC for the first session in December 2012. I shared a room with another student, and we discussed our reasons for attending. I told him about turning 50, empty nest, etc., and he said, “Oh, you’re having a midlife crisis!”
Oddly, I hadn’t recognized my behavior as symptomatic of a midlife crisis. I thought middle-aged men in crisis did things like buy fancy sport cars and divorce their wives. I realize now that I was only partially right. That’s how some men (and some women) react. And, it is really sad. They’re pursuing hedonic pleasures that will not make them truly happy. Fortunately, I had already figured out enough by then to know there are more important things.
Although I didn’t know the phrase at the time, I was more interested in eudaemonic happiness. Realizing that I was much closer to my death than to my birth, I was seeking to live a more fulfilling life by making myself a better person and by increasing the positive impact I might have on the world. Our lives are works in progress, and mine is no exception. I have learned a few things on this journey; I hope to learn much more. I have made some positive changes; I hope to make many more.
For my 20,000th day, I hope to do ordinary things. I intend to do them more mindfully than I have in the past. Today is a day to savor. A trip to the gym. A bike ride. A walk around town. Reading in the park (maybe drink sangria?). And, I will spend some time thinking about how I got to this 20,000th day and the people with whom I have shared this journey. But, mostly, I’ll do ordinary things. Today is a day for reflection, not celebration.
I began this morning with a cup of coffee and a book. Then, I sat down to write this blogpost. The 20,000th sun will soon rise. I am about to go outside with a second cup of coffee and watch the colors change and the day begin.
Then, I will go upstairs and say good morning to Linda. Today we will do ordinary things together. And, there is nothing that I would rather do on my 20,000th day (or any other day) than ordinary things – with her.