My friend, Maureen (who just turned nifty herself recently), and I decided that instead of turning 50, we’d turn nifty, and at 60, we’d turn sexty. I like the concept… not sure how it will play out in reality.
And so I’ve been thinking about what my photo for this milestone day would be, and there’s been nothing that just leaps to my mind as being an obvious choice. (I hope the graveyard photo I took a few days ago is no portent of what it might be. :) Maybe by the end of this post, I’ll have the answer.
Someone asked me recently if turning 50 was bothering me. I said, in all truthfulness, it is not. I like where I am in my life… with my relationships, my work, where I live, etc…. and that helps immensely to be satisfied with my age as well. Of course, I don’t enjoy the physical issues that come along with aging. In my youth, I was always very energetic and athletic, and now, energy is limited and athleticism is bedeviled by aches, pains, strains, and other irritating little things that remind me I can’t shake off injury like I use to. (Granted some of my issues now are not so much age-related as giving in to a sedentary lifestyle, but some are not.) Several people have told me in times past that I have nice hands, but now, they’re a bit spotted, and definitely more wrinkled than before. And since I use my hands constantly in my work and they’re always in front of me, they’re an ever-present reminder of time marching across my skin.
Then of course, there are the changes to the people around me… people I care about, who I’ve known all my life. Every time I talk to my parents, it seems someone else has been diagnosed with something or has passed away or has Alzheimer’s disease. And my parents themselves, every time I visit home, they seem a little slower, more stooped, more forgetful. That is the part of aging that I don’t like, that seems unfair… too much suffering involved in the culmination of lives well lived.
Apart from the physical changes, however, I feel like I’m more the “better” person that I really want to be… more appreciative of little things and little moments, less struggling against things that are totally out of my control (perhaps that’s the relinquishing of a controlling nature in general?), and more in tune with what is really important to me. George Bernard Shaw had it right when he wrote “Youth is wasted on the young.” It’s not that I want to go back to being young, it’s the wish that I’d understood then as I do now, more about the immense importance of relationships, beauty, spirituality, and being mindful of the brevity of life.
I used to act as if I needed to impact the world in such a way that someone would know I was here, and not just because of a grave marker. I wanted my life to be of consequence, but looking back, I realize that was more about my ego than it was wanting to make a real difference. Now, I realize that every thing I do and say has consequence. The way I speak to someone, the tone of my voice, has the power to hurt or encourage that person. Doing a kind deed in anonymity. Doing my work to the best of my ability. Making creative endeavors a priority. And of course, making (or attempting to make) people laugh.
Learning new things takes a bit longer, but the old girl’s still got it in her, and even more so, the desire to learn, to understand, to discover new and interesting things is as strong or stronger than it was back when. I hope that some disease of the brain never takes that away from me, as it brings me so much joy.
So I’ve started to ramble, and I want to get up and get going on my day. I decided to post a photo of the lake. I have reasons for what it means to me, but I’ll keep those to myself.
And now, on with the rest of my life!