I turn fifty today. Fifty years of life has taught me more than a few lessons. I wish I could say that I have distilled these lessons into some marvelous kernel of wisdom, but I regret that I cannot. If anything, I have come to respect the dynamism of such wisdom.
Have my decisions and actions been smart or dumb? Good or bad? Have they served me well or poorly? It all depends upon where I am—and how I feel—when you ask. In a joyful year, every step along my prior path appears to have moved me inexorably toward great joy. In a depressing year, every step along my prior path appears to have been part of a self-destructive drive into an inevitable brick wall. Context is critical.
To the extent that I can offer any wisdom at all, it is this: Always remember that while others have contributed to your life, you have provided the ultimate filter through which their contributions shaped you. You would not have become who you are without them—but you could not have become who you are without you. For my part, I accept responsibility for the decisions I have made, the actions I have taken, and the consequences to which they have led. I regret any pain that they may have caused those who have known and loved me.
That said, I can share a number of lessons that I believe I have learned—and just for the hell of it, I have set that number at fifty. I leave it to you to determine which of them you consider wise. I ask only that you take them each with a grain of salt.