In less than two weeks, I’ll be turning 49 but Chinese tradition apparently shuns the nines so I’ll be celebrating the day as my 50th instead. Whether 49 or 50, I’m not sure exactly how to feel. This is what they call mid-life, along with its attendant crises, many of which I can now attest to after having experienced them first-hand.

All things considered, where I am is not a bad place to be. I have a string of accomplishments that I can look back on, I have passed on and continue to pass on what I know, my financial position is stable, and I have a happy home life. Excepting problems with eyesight and the inevitable maintenace medicines, my health is good. As I said, not a bad place to be.

And yet, neither am I the success that I envisioned myself to be. I don’t own my own company or school and technically I’m still just an employee. My financial stability pales in comparison to some of my by-by-now well-connected former peers who are the rising taipans of Mindanao in this blighted age. That window for earning a PhD from a prestigious university closed not too long ago.

Perhaps it’s both the blessing and the curse of mid-life that it narrows down all the potentiality that we had as children and young adults to this point of actuality, The Now, as it were. For me, I never have to worry any more about whether I will be That or This. All those little choices of before, paths both taken and not taken, they all come to a head. Barring any cataclysmic event, I am locked in this course till the end, if only because I don’t have much energy or time for anything else. On the bright side, it takes away all the vacillation and the palpable uncertainty.

But this is just mid-life, not the end, and wholly dependent on God’s mercy, there’s still a ways to go. How much longer? Another twenty years or thirty years, forty if I’m lucky, or just ten, if I’m not. Still time enough to pick another language or two, or write the stories I’ve always wanted to write, this time unapologetically (or perhaps just less apologetically, as time goes by). Tend a garden, maybe, or teach, but outside the constricting confines of academe.

¡Si Dios quiere!