On Turning Fifty
Someone recently told me, “Women often feel embarrassed about their age. You seem proud.”
Darn right. I’m proud and happy.
A Very Strange Idea
Even though I grew up in this culture, it remains a very strange idea to me that anyone should feel ashamed of living long. What’s up with that? Are wrinkled women better off dead? Don’t aging women deserve to feel the wind in our hair and the earth beneath our feet? Should we just dig a hole and toss ourselves in, leaving those disappointed by our aging to cover us with dirt?
“Lori, you’re over-reacting. There’s not that much pressure to be young.” Then why do we allow doctors to cut into the tender flesh of our faces and insert foreign objects into our breasts? We’d rather be voluntarily-tortured than grow old. We’d rather pay big bucks to be mutilated than to let the natural aging process happen. That sounds like pressure to me.
Too Chicken to be a Rubber Duck
It’s not for me. I’m too chicken to be plastic. I don’t even like getting an immunization shot, so put away your gleaming knives, cosmetic surgeon. You’re barking up the wrong old tree. I can live with how I look and I’m frankly very happy to be aging. It means I’m not dead and that’s a good thing. I’m not going to be convinced otherwise. I’m not going to feel ashamed because I had the audacity to live beyond youth and to look like it.
I hope to live long and to die looking old. I apologize in advance to anyone offended by lined skin and a stooped skeleton. You’ll just have to shop elsewhere for your eye candy. I sat on that shelf long enough. I’m tired of it.
Happy Birthday to Me!
Yesterday I turned fifty. The great thing about it for me is that I have a lot of opportunities and many open doors ahead. I acknowledge that this is not the reality shared by everyone who is aging. But it is my reality and for me, fifty means good fortune.
In my fiftieth year I had the chance to leave one job and to train for another career. I’ve had the chance to travel to my beloved Mexico several times this past decade and look forward to visiting that country again. While I’ve had some health concerns and a couple scares, I’ve emerged unscathed and feeling better than fine. Most days, I am optimistic and my heart is cheerful.
Being fifty makes me think of my friends and family who fell ill or died suddenly before seeing this age. I remember them and feel especially grateful to get to say that I’m fifty. I’m able to walk and exercise and study and write.
At fifty, I’m free as a bird. This freedom is partly due to choices I’ve made, but in larger part this freedom exists because of factors over which I have no control. My health is good because my genetics are mostly strong. I live in a vast, beautiful and free country. This is important and easy to forget. It’s so easy to overlook the advantages I have strictly because of where and when I was born, and to whom.
At fifty I feel allowed now to let go of many goals, to stop chasing after some vision of who I want to be. I’m there and I’m her. There’s nowhere to run to and no one to become. It’s a relief to stop striving and to just breathe. In these later years, I’ll give myself permission to move a little slower, to take my time and to savour the days. I’ll enjoy the journey instead of pushing myself along as if my precious life were nothing more than an ordeal to “get through.” Get through to what, the cemetery?
At fifty, I have a supportive spouse and many great friends and family members. I have experience and the little bit of wisdom that came along with it.
If I’m lucky, my skin will wrinkle and my body will slowly slow down. If I’m lucky, I’ll get older. That’s what the first fifty years has taught me. It’s a gift and good luck to live even this long. I won’t be embarrassed to tell my age, and I won’t submit myself to torture that turns me into a distorted image of my youthful self.
I can’t say I’m pleased with everything I’ve done and with every decision I’ve made along the way, but I can say that I’m really grateful to be fifty. Why wouldn’t I be?