All I want for my birthday is not to have a party.I'm turning 50, an age when I'd prefer not to have such overt reminders that I am not what I once was.Should I need reminding, all I have to do is look in the mirror.It's a lot like lawmaking and sausage manufacturing: It's not pretty.One day I have a full head of hair and get carded. Next thing, I'm balding and cringing while the cashier calls me "sir."And that hair that will no longer grow on my head? It seems to want to thrive in all sorts of odd places. What 20-year-old worries about back, nose or ear hair?I remember the first time I spied a gray chest hair. I plucked it and taped it to the bathroom mirror as a warning to the others. Of course, you know how that turned out.We tend to discuss aging in the framework of Hegelian dialectic. The baby boomers once warned we should trust no one over 30 -- until they got older, when 40 became the new 30, and then 50 the new 40.Sooner or later, this thesis-antithesis-synthesis cycle crashes, because at some point one's age becomes the new death.To me, 50 is 50. And I'm just not sure what to think about that.I don't feel old. Sure, I will occasionally stride confidently from one room to another, only to arrive at my destination and forget why I'd gone. But for the most part, everything works the way it's supposed to.And aging has its benefits. "The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected," Robert Frost tells us."Wisdom comes with winters," echoes Oscar Wilde.It's great to have the gift of perspective and context. Life's cacophony is much less scary that way.But wisdom comes with worry, too, worry about cosmic justice.I went through a rough patch in my mid-20s and had thoughts like this: I'm having a mid-life crisis at 25. I hope I live past 50.Remembering those thoughts, it's hard not to feel uneasy. It's just the sort of ironic detail reporters would love to exploit on the day my body was found.And then there's this: At 50, one becomes acutely aware that he has lived more years than he has left.Somehow, that doesn't seem like a reason for a party.I have a great life. I have an amazing wife who is far better than I deserve, two wonderful kids growing into honorable adulthood as they pursue their respective dreams, and a job I love.I prefer to celebrate life's little joys daily instead of milestones that portend ultimate doom.I also enjoy the blessing of not having regrets. I've made lots of mistakes, but every one of my choices has led me to where I am today. And that I would not trade for anything.I always wanted to live the kind of life that would give me great memories, to have "fragments I have shored against my ruins," to take T.S. Eliot out of context. And that's what I have, along with a singular hope of building more.I'm turning 50, an age the commercials tell us is an age of getting things done. As long as those things don't include a party, that's precisely what I intend to do.Geoff Campbell is a lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Texas at Arlington and is an ardent fan of living.