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Sunday, March 31, 2024


First photograph
March 31, 1974
Moses Cone Hospital
Greensboro, North Carolina

For a very long time I've believed that if you can make it to fifty without once getting told that you're "middle-aged" it means that you'll never have to be a grown-up.

Ahhhhh, so Fifty, we meet at last.  I've been waiting for you.  You thought I wouldn't make it this far but you were wrong.  You're like One-Eyed Willie from The Goonies: you laid out your traps but I got past them all.  And now here we are.

I shouldn't be here.  The odds have been against me from the very beginning.  All the way back to that delivery room on a rainy Sunday night in 1974 when I emerged from my mother's womb.  Not moving, not crying, not breathing.  It was twelve minutes after being born before air finally filled my lungs.  Fortunately the doctor who delivered me was a very good one.  In lesser hands and without the equipment that got rushed to the room, I wouldn't be here writing about it five full decades later.

There have also been the many situations and events that have transpired throughout the course of my life.  Everything from horrible car crashes to getting shot at.  Any one of those could have ended the temporal traipsings of one Robert Christopher Knight.

And then, there is the dominant element of my life these past twenty-five years: living with manic depression (or bipolar disorder, as I sometimes still call it).  The disease that has destroyed so much happiness and chance for joy.  There is literally no counting how many times I've wanted to die and put an end to the pain forever.  Too many of those times I tried to act on that desire.  I should be dead dozens of times over by now.

Yet here I am.

Many people, especially men, dread the prospect of turning fifty.  They try to cut deals with the universe.  Attempt to bargain with God, that He will give them just one more iota of youth before it all goes downhill.  They try to reason with Death, begging it to stave off the inevitable a little longer.

That's not me.  I've never had the luxury of getting to have a "mid-life crisis".  For me these past several decades, there has been no promise of tomorrow.  There has been little hope for a future of lasting happiness.  My entire life all this time has been in a crisis mode of some form or another, with no time to lament mortality.

Maybe that's part of the reason why I'm feeling so good today.

I am in the best shape that I've been in, in my entire life.  Physically I'm in excellent condition.  My metabolism is that of someone fifteen or twenty years younger.  People all the time mistake me for someone in his early thirties: something I never cease having loads of fun with!

It's mentally that I'm feeling most accomplished about though...

Mentally I am better than I was ten years ago and I want to believe that I'm not as good as I will be ten years from now.  I take my mental health very seriously.  This isn't something you can simply take meds for and see a counselor every few weeks.  You have to WORK, and work hard, to get to that place where you can function and then maintain that.

I'll never be where I'd like to be mentally - bipolar disorder will almost forever be a lurking monster waiting to lash out from the shadows - but I've come very far indeed.  If only I could have been the person I am now, fifteen or twenty years ago.  It would have saved myself and others a lot of grief.

When you're much better at fifty than you were at twenty-five, that is cause for celebration.

What can I say?  I don't smoke and I only drink once a year, when I toast Dad's memory on his birthday with a bottle of his favorite wine.  Despite the disease I try to maintain an upbeat and cheerful and friendly demeanor.  People often tell me that I never meet a stranger.  I've never stopped wanting to learn new things: something that has proven advantageous in the new career that I've recently embarked upon.

(Wish I could tell y'all about that but I literally can't.  All I'll say is that it's a job that's perfect for me, in a field of expertise that has only recently come about.  And I'm getting to use much of my experiences and skills and education toward it.  That also is a reason why I'm finding myself happier than I've thought I've had a right to be.)

Mostly though, I have to credit God.  I could not have come this far without Him and the grace He provides.  Especially in these past several months I've drawn closer to Him.  I'm not holding things against myself as much as I used to: things that I'm even more understanding were beyond my control.  I don't blame God for those anymore.  We aren't promised an easy life.  As long as we are on this earth there will be sickness and suffering.  But God has been faithful.  He has brought me a long way through the madness.  I am absolutely thankful to God, for what He has done in my life.

Maybe it's fitting that this year my birthday is on Easter Sunday.  Because Easter is a day where we celebrate new life, the passing away of darkness.  I feel alive this day, in every possible way.

So, today I turn fifty years old.  I'm cherishing it with all abandon.  Remembering what has come before and looking forward to what is still to come.  Perhaps I'll make it to eighty-eight, and be here to write about seeing Halley's Comet for the second time in my life.  I asked God for that in 1985, when the comet's last appearance was a letdown.  Maybe the next time will be better.

In the meantime, I've a new career and I'm well underway with my book project.  There are a few creative irons in the fire (including a film story that I'm looking for a writing partner to help turn into a real screenplay).  I have my dog Tammy.  I have been blessed with some remarkable friendships.  I have family that I never knew about until a few years ago.  I still have hope, that God might let me have a little family of my own someday.

Fifty, here I am.  And I am delighted to finally meet you.




Solomon Grundy said...


LoriG said...

Happy Birthday Chris!

Stosh said...

Happy birthday Chris :) So now I know how old you are. You don't look a day over 30!

Nicole said...

Wishing a very happy birthday to my FAVORITE Internet personality! ;)

Chris Knight said...

Thank you everyone! I am truly thankful and blessed :-)

Kamala's Legs said...

You were such a cute baby! Look at those eyes, I've never seen a newborn baby look so alert. You look like you already knew the score and was going to take on the world. You did good for your first fifty years now's the time to really shine. Happy birthday Chris and may God continue to bless.

Old friend said...

Happy late birthday Chris! God is doing amazing things in and through your life. Thank you for sharing like you have these many years.

Bronsky said...

Chris you have lived an amazing life already and I hope you keep sharing your adventures, your wisdom, and your interests with us. Happy Birthday my good man!

Lisbeth said...

You're fifty???? I thought this whole time you were in your mid-late thirties. Looking good kid!