This week I celebrate my 45th birthday, and it is going to be hard. I have never fretted about aging until this year. No matter what I try to do to avoid thoughts of aging, I keep seeing evidence of it everywhere! Did you know that Elvis was 42 when he died (you can read about Rock n’ Roll’s worst tragedy here) and we seem to be celebrating Sinatra turning 100 everywhere (check out how they celebrate him in Canadian news). I'm older than Elvis was when he died. In fact, I'm older than my mom was when I graduated from college (okay, she had us young).
Ironically, my birthday blues are not about the physicality of aging. I'm lucky! I come from a long-lived family (mid-to-late 90s), and my mother slathered me in sunscreen as a kid, so wrinkles have generally avoided trespassing on my face. Being a mid-forties business law lawyer these days is not so bad. Yes, I can spend an excessive amount of money on wrinkle cream, but I have the luxury of experience and wisdom that a lawyer with fewer than 10 to 15 years of practice experience and an excessive social media "profile" cannot out market.
My birthday blues don't revolve around my aging face or body or my higher billable rate. No, my birthday blues revolve around the mid-life status of my legal career. Whether I like it or not, my 45th birthday triggers a need to consider the next 20 (or more likely 25) years of my economic earning as a legal professional. So, as I consider the second half of my life as well as the second half of my career as a lawyer (the average retirement age of a lawyer is 67.7, according to this essay by American Lawyer), I would be lying if I did not admit how the need to consider, adapt and change throughout my own legal career puts me in the middle of a lawyer mid-life opportunity. (I refuse to say crisis.)
So while Elvis undisputedly accomplished much in the career he had while living to the ripe age of 42 (three years younger than I am this week!!!!) and Sinatra changed to the world before he died at the age of 82 in 1998 (the year I entered the practice of law), I, like all of you, must contemplate where our path's as lawyers go throughout the topography of our careers, and I must celebrate that, no matter what, "I did it my way!”