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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 10, 2003

The approach of the Big Five-O means time to take stock

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By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

OK, so I'm turning 50 next month. So what? It's just another birthday. It's no reason to get all worked up and philosophical, is it?

I've been around the block a few times, and the only place it got me was dizzy. The world seems to be going crazy, and I've already been there. What goes around always comes around.

That's no reason to get all in a lather, is it? Five-0 is a TV show, not a midlife crisis. Still, maybe it's not such a bad idea to see where I've been after all, to check on where I'm still going.

First, let's look on the bright side. Let's add up the big accomplishments in a life mostly spent in trivial pursuit:

  • I've lived for almost 50 years and have never paid any money to a lawyer. In this litigious age, that's a lot harder to do than many people realize.
  • I've been married for 26 years — to the same woman. Of course, she made it easy.
  • I can say "by the king, the lion was eaten" in Sanskrit, and I know how to say "Another beer, please" in at least nine languages.
  • Nine years down and only 21 more to go on my first and only mortgage.
  • I've read all seven volumes of Proust's "Remembrances of Things Past" — twice. I know that the title would be better translated as "In Search of Time Lost, or Time Wasted," which isn't a bad description of my own life.
  • My credit report is clean. I think.
  • I still wear my aloha shirts outside of my blue jeans.
  • I've never stopped believing that socialism can make the world a better place.
  • I've seen Northwestern University play in the Rose Bowl. I watched the Chicago Bears win a Super Bowl.

Of course, as one of my musical heroes once said, there's a whole lot of things I ain't never done. I ain't never had too much. And:

  • I haven't found a religion I can truly believe in.
  • I haven't written a novel. I haven't even started one.
  • I haven't invented any product that has improved mankind.
  • I haven't accumulated any wealth to speak of.
  • I haven't lived long enough to see the Chicago Cubs in a World Series.
  • I haven't done enough to help others.
  • I haven't ridden a bicycle across the country.
  • I haven't fathered any children who are going to save the world.
  • I haven't received a doctorate in literature.
  • I haven't figured out how to compute percentages without the help of a Web site called financewizard.com.

Strangely enough, I'm not disappointed about any of these disappointments, with the exception of not helping others more. The rest are just parts of the soup that I haven't been able to put in the pot yet.

Maybe they'll come someday; maybe they aren't necessary.

Reach Mike Leidemann at 525-5460 or mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.