Seems like only yesterday I was building sand castles in the sand at Seacliff beach. My older sisters off swimming and checking out the boys, probably keeping one eye on me, but probably not.
Here I am just turned that magical milestone that so many fear and many can not even bear to verbalise. Yep FIFTY! I am not sure why it is such a big deal. Turning fifty used to be when you were considered truly “old”, but does that old pardigm still hold true? I have a friend who is already past fifty, and yes he does seem “old”, but then again he always seemed that way. Is it a physical thing, or just a state of mind?
Many of my customers at work, whom are mostly older, have told for many years, “don’t get old son”. You know in that old croaky voice that says they are miserable. This was amusing at first, but after the 999th time it lost it’s punch. Then, one day a couple of years ago, an elderly chap, quite sprightly for his age said to me, “you know, age is the price you pay living”. Well, this took me back. No funny retort was forth coming from my lips which after thirty odd years chatting to my customers was unusual. It was simple, but truly profound! What a great attitude to life. (I was going to say “getting older”, but that would not be in the spirit of the quote). This certainly did fit with my personal attitude to age, and it has stayed with me, and at least once a week I pass on this eloquent quote. To this day I do not recall his name. I would love to let him know how he has influenced me for the better, and how I keep the idea alive for others to consider.
Some time ago I considered my future life. I recalled that in my early teens I found out that my Father’s brothers all died very young. All around the age of forty or so. This was terribly young. I certainly did not want to live such a short life, and being my father’s son and possibly prone to similar health risks, I ascribed to a moderately healthy life. However in later years realising that either I have inherited more from my mother’s side, or perhaps that all that healthy living has paid off, I am now in a position to live a very long life!
So yes, to me, “fifty” is a milestone. I may now be considered old by some much younger, and yes I cannot run as fast, jump as high, or see quite as well. In addition to this, the older I have gotten, the less I realise I actually know. This however, (I know what you are thinking) is not an indication of dementia etc, but a reflection of more critical thinking. This I realised by way of discovering just a few well established “facts” that turned out to be not actually true. I came to question more and more that I had accepted in the past as being true, and low and behold! Many of the things we hold as being undeniably true, I have discovered to be either totally false or a questionable or unproven theory at best. I am now sceptical/critical of most things unless I see clear evidence to the contrary.
My life so far has included a benign happy childhood. Five siblings, another dozen or more kids in our street alone, and more in adjacent streets. We were not short of play mates. A typically exciting but terrifying teen stage. At times excruciatingly lonely and isolated, but then filled with the most exciting and life changing moments. I know I block out the bad times, but I still feel them lurking at times. Some things change, but some things always stay the same.
On the up side of turning fifty, I can now get discounts on a range of things including insurance, because I am part of the “older” set that needs looking after.
Anyway, back to the question at hand. Is fifty, old? A number of things happen when you are around fifty. Your eye sight fades. You have aches in places not felt before. One of your parent’s face starts to appear in the mirror looking back at you each morning. You are still supporting older children that refuse to leave home and be independent, and among other things, you start thinking the best of your years were in the past and not to be in the future. Those with “XX” chromosomes have their own issues that I am not allowed to discuss in front of my wife (who is also turning 50 and I she will hit me for even writing this).
So, what I really feel, is that this is a new starting point, not a (near) end point of my life. The start of something entirely new. Some would call this a “mid life crisis”, while I prefer to think of it as more of a self realisation or “Epiphany”. We are so narrowly focussed when we are younger with getting married, buying a house, travelling, having kids, then getting no sleep. Then getting no “my” time, and then busy being an “on call” taxi driver. When finally the kids start living their own lives, finding their own way around, (and sometimes don’t even come home for days), we find the time to be, find time to read, and find time to think. This I have found to be a wonderful experience and have delighted in totally trashing long held belief’s and forming new ideas about life, self, and this wonderful world around us. I have re discovered the joy of learning.
Is fifty old? I would suggest it is only half way there. Another fifty years worth of living and learning is quite a long time, and with the opportunities with nutrition and medical advances, I see no reason to not believe I can be active and engaging right upto the very end.
Here’s to the adventure of the next fifty years!