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Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Completing 50...

 A few months ago, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of turning 50. You remember that (not you personally turning 50, but my blog about it), don't you? The wiry gray eyebrows, hot flashes and insomnia, wrinkles, sags, and bags? Then, I finished saying I'd keep you posted as I sat back and used an objective, scientific eye to observe and report on the process.

Not my eyebrows, but I swear sometimes when I
look into that damn magnifying mirror, this is what I see!
Well, that hasn't happened. I mean, I've been observing the whole process, in minute, gory detail. I've just failed to a.) be objective about it, and b.) report on it. So, now here I am 13 days away from my 50th birthday, wondering where the last few months have gone!

To be honest, I've discovered that turning 50 is really quite liberating. Not in the way I expected it to be back in my 30s when I thought, "damn, that's old" and not as I expected even a decade ago ("then I'll be so old I'll be able to just let myself go and it won't matter.) Instead, it's given me a new perspective and new freedom to look at life with new eyes.

I know, I know. How can 50-year-old eyes be new? Well, after having spent many a navel-gazing hour reflecting on my life (what else is there to do while floating around the pool? I can't read 'cause my reading sunglasses are polarized so I can't see my tablet screen, and holding a book over head becomes so taxing after a page or two for us old folk), I came up with a quick summary of my adult life. I really don't know if it holds true for everyone, only for me.

In my 20s, I knew everything. I had the answers. I was so much smarter than my parents had ever been. I'd never make any mistakes. I'd charge ahead full force and conquer the world, avoiding pitfalls and obstacles because I could.

Me, at 22.
Youth is so wasted on the young.

In my 30s, I looked back on the hubris and arrogance of my 20s. What does youth know of hard choices and sacrifice. Or of hard work, for that matter? My 20s had been full of childish games and conceits. In my 30s, I worked hard and learned valuable lessons. That was my time. Before then, I thought I knew everything, but now, I'd learned--usually the hard way--just how young, naïve, and ignorant I'd been. In my 20s, I didn't know what I didn't know. That might be the only thing that let me survive that decade. With the new awareness that "the more I learned the less I knew,"  I was able to really grow and conquer the world in my 30s because then I'd REALLY learned everything.

Celebrating my 30th birthday with Julie.
She's been helping me celebrate for 20+ years now.
Despite that, we refuse to grow up!

By my 40s, I started to have some doubts about my knowledge base, but I knew I knew a whole lot more than I had before. I also knew that there would always be more to learn, that I'd have to keep an open mind forever to really continue to grow as a person. But I was confident in my ability to keep learning, absorbing, taking it all in. I'd be a lifelong learner, tackling new realms and pursuing new knowledge. The 40s would be my time to achieve life goals, have new experiences, take on the world on my terms with full awareness that I still had many lessons to learn.

Julie and I celebrated our 40th year with by getting tattoos when our day at Brewers Bay Beach
was rained out. Later that year, we did a group trip to Jost van Dyke with a group of friends
who'd all turned 40 that year and all lived in the VI at overlapping times.

So, what do I think of all that aggressive, active pursuit of knowledge now that I'm staring down the eyes of 50? Who cares? I'm exhausted. Just thinking about all that wore me out. I had to go get a glass of wine and take a break. Not only do I now realize I don't know squat, less than a drop in the bucket of all the knowledge in the universe, but I don't care, either. The world is a big and fascinating place. No one person is ever going to know everything there is to know about it and no one expects me, or anyone, to have all the answers. Anyone who thinks they do, anyone who is fully confident that they're right is either young or an idiot. I no longer feel like there's some deficit in me if I'm not certain. That's what makes life interesting--the unknown. Fifty has given me the freedom to not worry about being certain and having the answers. If it's important, maybe I can find out about it, and if not, oh well. The world won't end. I have embraced my ignorance.

I've also bypassed the entire "turning 50" trauma by switching from "American English" thinking: I'm turning 50; to the chronologically correct Spanish term: Cumplo 50 años. On my birthday in 13 days, I will not turn 50, but I will have completed 50 years of life. Thus, rendering it too late for the trauma and drama of those pesky milestone birthdays because that year is now done, completed. Over.

Visiting in NY.
And a spectacular 50th year it's been. My second novel, Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons was accepted for publication by Casperian Books (it'll be coming out in spring 2014), we got to see family in Chicago and New York and enjoyed our Hinkey nieces and nephew visiting us here, a spectacular visit with our best friends in San Diego, had all sorts of wonderful times with friends throughout the year, and expect a few more before my 50th year is complete (zip-lining in NC with the Gosses next weekend!)

Hinkey and Masaryk visit to SC

At the Birch Aquarium in San Diego with Misty and Terry

All in all, fifty is feeling pretty fabulous right now. With age doesn't necessarily come wisdom, but perhaps more wit to deal with it all, and enough exhaustion from those previous five decades to really not care about wasting energy on the things that really don't matter.

I can't wait to see what the next decade brings!

With Shana and Sheila at the Dirty Girl Mud Run
for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.

The main reason life just keeps getting better all the time.
(Don't be silly. The giraffe was awesome, but I meant my husband, of course!)


1 comment:

  1. This is terrific, Lynne. I loved "anyone who is fully confident that they're right is either young or an idiot." Lots of those folks (fools?)online these days.
    For me, the big 50 was a liberation. I made two decisions at that point: 1) I no longer cared what others thought of me; I was living my life to do what seemed best for me; and 2) I needed to get back in shape (after 20 years at a sedentary bench and desk job). So I joined Sierra Club, started hiking and back-packing, and went on sabbatical in Switzerland. I still feel liberated, a quarter of a century later.
    Brava! And keep up the good work!!