When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
When we are young it seems the opportunities are endless doors to the future are flung wide open and we are bulletproof.
Bad love affair? Lost job? Bad grade in a class?
Never mind, we will overcome any and all of these very quickly with a few days of lamentation, perhaps a bitch session or two with our friends and then it is back to life. This is true of most of us; we are indeed invincible and these inconveniences teach us, toughen us up for adult life.
When we are young, doors are flung wide open and we march through them, assured life will hand us the gold medal, most of us rarely reach middle age unscathed by the arrows of real life beyond childhood. I look at my own history as a long hallway, some doors flung wide open and others securely locked with blinking “Do Not Enter” signs above the jams. My future is simply the continuation of that hallway, with fewer doors, fewer choices and not nearly as many frightening outcomes as my past.
My mother once said to me, “Keep it up and you won’t see 40!”
I don’t know if she was threatening me at the time or simply receiving visions of my future, I have always suspected it was part threat and part wishful thinking. Needless to say, not only did I see forty, I will be fifty-six this year. Each decade of my life has seen real changes take place, sometimes those changes have not been of my choosing but the upheaval brought something new and in later years usually something better.
They say fifty-five is the new middle age, with this I have reached a new pinnacle a new point in life. I am no longer ‘young’, can no longer excuse my indiscretions on youth; I am not ‘old’ either, I don’t have the excuse of age or memory loss. I don’t think of myself as anything other than me, just me with all my body dysfunction brought on by injury and misuse. I think of myself as just me, with foibles and strange predilections brought on by my history and need to protect myself and control my environment.
Having reached this wonderful milestone, this spectacular new middle age of fifty-five I can only consider what is next. There was no light flashing over my head last September when this magical age was reached, in fact I believe I was sitting at my favorite restaurant having forgone the normal holiday to bright and sunny spots. I am far too young to retire and honestly couldn’t imagine life without the hustle of work, despite there are days I do not love it.
I worry sometimes, how does society view us? Those of us reaching this magical new middle age, we aren’t old; we aren’t ready to retire to our rocking chairs. Most of us, no matter the lives we have led to now are vibrant, smart and ready still to rock-n-roll, we have much to offer yet we are often sidelined. I am lucky for now, at fifty I began to contract myself rather than work as someone’s employee. This transition gave me freedom though it is a frightening freedom to be sure, especially now in our economic uncertainty. They say though reinvention is necessary and so I reinvented myself, one more time.
Each decade of our lives, we change, sometimes the change is small and other times the change is spectacular. With each transition to a new decade, we carry with us the hopes and disappointments of the previous decade and our dreams for the future. It is inevitable our dreams change as our life is changed by providence. We grow up and expand our world, with people we love and causes we align with. As our world expands, as our vision of what we are capable of grows we are enriched and we are better able to enhance the lives of those we touch.
Although the pasture ahead of me seems welcoming, I am not quite ready yet. At the ripe middle age of fifty-five I suspect I still have some hell to raise and some childish things I haven’t put away. I am guessing the secret to not growing old even as we transition from one age to the next is holding on to all those special memories, loves and lights that caused us to cherish each decade while releasing the hurts of the past to galaxy.