When Socrates insisted that "the unexamined life is not worth living," most people agree that he was encouraging us to examine our interior lives, the ideas and beliefs and motivations and choices and reactions that propel us through the world. Ever since I turned 50 a few months ago, however, I've been equally interested in doing some exterior examination: How have I changed over the years? Do the physical changes I've gone through in the last few decades--the added pounds, the new wrinkles, the ever-multiplying gray hairs and slowly-receding hair line (and, if I'm really honest, the additional chins...*sigh*)--say anything about the interior changes that I've also experienced?
Yeah, probably. I don't know. Maybe.
But there's one thing I can say: My hair has changed quite a bit over the years, but my hair style hasn't changed at all. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, indeed.
The above picture is me from sometime around 1977 until July of 2017, approximately every thirteen or fourteen years. Maybe one of the reasons looking back on my life like this is valuable is because, seeing myself at ten, at twenty-three, at thirty-eight, I can remember many wonderful things from my life at those times, and, if I'm smart (and that's a big if!), it prompts me to count all the wonderful things there are in my life right now, even if I am (gulp!) fifty years old. Midlife may not be quite as much fun or as free as childhood, or young adulthood, or not-young-but-still-not-old adulthood, but it's still life, and that's worth a lot.
Also, I find a great deal of pleasure in this Peanuts strip from 1973, drawn when Charles M. Schulz himself was fifty: