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Crossing into half-century changes life view

I am fast facing 51 years, and I am delighted to say I am no longer terrorized by it. Sure, once upon a time, back more than a year ago, before my 50th, I was looking at the half-century mark as something other than a point of celebration, more a case of the glass being half-empty rather than half-full.

Well, having lived now through nearly all of the year past my 50th birthday, I can see that there are advantages to being in the second half-century of my life.

There's a fast food restaurant up the way that's been giving me the senior citizen discount on morning coffee, without my asking. Perhaps those fast food clerks are more perceptive than we give them credit for. A quick a.m. glance tells them I am deserving of a cheaper cup of coffee. Okay.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) says I am old enough to join up, but so far I've resisted. I think the acronym still sounds more like a seal cry (AARP! AARP!) than the name of something I want to send dues to each year.

My bank, however, has waived all sorts of service fees because I'm now 50-plus. That's good; anytime I can get my bank to stop charging me money for making money off my money is a plus.

Mainly, however, I just looked in the mirror. I mean a really close look. And I saw my father's face looking back at me. I was stunned. Sure, I've always been told there's a family resemblance, as there should be. But this is the first time I've seen it so starkly, outside of a few black-and-white snapshots.

I really do look like my father in the face! I have his paunch, too, and his square-tipped fingers, but that's another column.

Now this is both scary and fascinating. The changes in my face seem to hold the most promise. I saw tonight new lines in my ear lobes, new gray in my eyebrows, new contours under the eyes.

There is change afoot in my face, and I am genuinely curious to see where all this will lead. What will I look like in another 12 months? More like my father? Less? Like a total stranger?

This is an adventure in change that cannot compare with a cheaper cup of coffee or free checking at my bank.

I find myself looking at people differently now. I look at their faces, at whatever age they seem to be at in the moment, and imagine what face they had before and what face they will have later. I wonder what face in the past this present face came from.

This inspection, and introspection, has been good for the writer in me. Suddenly, I've awakened to a whole new universe of change and promise.

Belonging to the second half-century club no longer seems so limiting in potential. Now I see the glass, my glass, as very much only half-full. Maybe only one-quarter full.

Fred. W. Wright Jr. is a free-lance writer. My View columnists, invited to contribute on a regular basis, write their own views on subjects they choose, which are not necessarily the opinions of this newspaper.