When is a milestone not a milestone? When nobody wants it to occur.
Today (depending on your mode of counting) is Day 50 on the island. It translates a little better converted into months – a shade under two. Or perhaps as a decimal of a year, 0.137. Regardless of how we spell it, it represents a long time with more to come.
If there is something magical in our decimal based minds about a hundred (even though we as a country are emphatically and stubbornly not metric), then there is something only semi-magical about fifty, as if it is nearly an achievement. In that opaque sport of cricket, we celebrate a player’s “half-century” with the bat, fifty runs or more, although the ovation is not nearly as emphatic as it is for the full hundred. Fifty home runs in a baseball season is a lot, although not record breaking thanks to Babe Ruth (and steroids). The fifty goal plateau for a hockey player is the difference between journeyman and hall-of-famer and in professional soccer (football) is largely unprecedented (unless you account for all competitions, where two blokes named Messi and Ronaldo have recently thumbed their noses at the milestone on a regular basis). A fifty-yard field goal is considered monumental still, although kickers can easily send a ball sixty or seventy yards on flight. Fifty points in a basketball game remains remarkable. And no one had eaten anywhere near fifty hotdogs in a competition until 2001 when that mystical threshold was reached. The current record is seventy-four.
Fifty years is a formidable anniversary, whether for marriage or membership. For life expectancy in the modern world, it is not considered a long span – the great irony in the fact that fifty is many years of accomplishment and yet seems so young (especially to those of us who have passed the number). Which says something about life or marriage or both.
But what can you do with fifty days? Many of us have the answer now. We can stream the entire catalog of Marvel Universe movies and throw the Star Wars saga in for good measure. We can make the effort to read fifty books – no matter how many we complete is a good number. We can build jigsaw puzzles to cover every surface of our house and then wonder why we are saving the finished products in the first place. We could (and many do) celebrate the full extent of Pentecost, although our starting date was off by several weeks and there were no churches in which to celebrate.
According to the internet, we could lose fifty pounds in that time (unlikely in a time of stress and isolation, but worth noting nevertheless). Or even run fifty ironman competitions. So says the internet and the internet does not lie.
Or perhaps we can write fifty silly Notes trying to make sense of the world and its craziness, all the while hoping that we never need to collect information for a hundredth day essay.