Yes, I have officially turned the big 5-0 today. It’s hard to believe I’m a half century old now. Where did all those years go? Frankly, the notion that I’ve lived for 600 months, 2608 weeks, 18,262 days, 438,288 hours, 26,297,280 minutes, and 1,577,836,800 seconds is astounding! While I have plenty of mixed feelings surrounding a birthday that was always “way out there” looming in the distance, now that it’s ultimately here, I find myself asking one specific question I never asked myself at any of those prior big milestone birthdays of my younger adulthood. But, before I get into what that question is, I think it’s important to show the mindset I had on several of those previous major birthdays.
When I turned 21, I drank myself into oblivion with far too many tequila shots at a bar named Red Creek that was near my university, Rochester Institute of Technology. I felt then that I had my whole life ahead of me and didn’t care much about anything but pleasing my ego and raising my dopamine levels in any way I could. When I turned 30, I was long sober from alcohol and drugs and had settled into a relationship with someone I thought I was going to be with for the rest of my life. I was earning an amazing salary in a former computer career, and I celebrated it all with a huge Hawaiian-themed party in the backyard of my home just outside Washington, DC. I wasn’t questioning anything then because I thought I had it all figured out. But when 40 hit, I realized I hadn’t really figured out anything in life. It was then I had just begun facing some hardcore recovery work surrounding addictions I had never addressed, was in the beginning stages of the many health issues I continue to face, and had just gone through a tremendous financial loss in the upper six-figure range from my business that went under, so I wasn’t thinking much about anything except how I was going to survive. My celebration on that day was a few recovery friends and a few loved ones having a barbecue for me, one I was more checked out than in. Ten years later, turning 50 today, while I have survived through a whole heck of a lot in life thus far, I keep asking myself the same question…
Why am I here???
Is this a question that comes up frequently when one turns 50? Is it a question often asked specifically around this major birthday milestone?
At 50, being jobless, income-less, health issue-laden, and dependent upon my partner in more ways than I really wish to be, the best answer I have to that question presently is I’m here to tell my addiction and PTSD recovery story, a story that took me from a hardened and broken heart, to a caring and loving one, one that seems to inspire many each time I share it, whether it be via my writing or speaking. But is that the sole reason why I’m still here or does God have some greater plan for me that just hasn’t come to fruition yet?
While I regularly hope that one of God’s plans for me is to physically heal me from this heavy physical pain I’ve carried every day for years now, and another is to become healthy enough to return to the working class to a meaningful and fulfilling paying job, neither will matter if I don’t feel God’s peace and joy again, something I haven’t felt in almost five years, no matter how hard I’ve tried to find it. As I’ve said in many articles’ prior, living with intense chronic pain daily tends to block one from feeling that.
I often wonder if maybe that’s why both my father and mother checked out early in life, with my father making it just past 50 and my mother just past 60. Neither felt God’s peace and joy for years prior to their deaths, both being blocked by mental and emotional health issues. While I have worked through the majority of that, I have been unsuccessful finding any solution to moving beyond the chronic pain I continue to live with, which has left me feeling devoid of God’s peace and joy, more than not.
So, while I don’t want to follow in my parent’s footsteps as I begin this life beyond 50, I also don’t want to keep asking myself the same question of, “Why am I here?” I believe the only solution to move beyond this dilemma is one that requires God’s peace and joy. Because whenever I’ve felt that in life for the brief moments I have, it’s always shown me that I was exactly where I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was meant to be doing, no matter how small or difficult it may have seemed to my ego at the time. To feel that again, for the rest of my life, I don’t believe it would matter whether I was turning 50, 60, 70, or any age for that matter, as feeling God’s peace and joy will always transcend any of the ego’s need to find answers to the questions it asks itself so futilely, questions that include the very one I keep asking myself as I turn the big 5-0 today of, “Why am I here?”
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson