So I’m about to turn 51 in just a few days and as I get older the first thing I notice is I was wrong about a lot of things in my youth. The first is that 50 is old. I assure you, it isn’t. I remember back in my 20′s if I read that someone in his/her 50′s had died I always smugly thought to myself, “...well at least she had a long life.” I was wrong. At 51 I’m nowhere ready to leave this earth.
Another failing of my youth was looking disapprovingly at people in the “later years” driving sports cars or buying what I considered vanity toys – motorcycles, boats, etc. Little did I know that as I approached what I deemed then as “later years” I’d come to realize that it’s not a mid-life crises that brings on the desire to make these purchase or make changes in ones appearance, but the realization that time is short and if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or own, now is the time to do it.
“When you’re young, you always feel that life hasn’t yet begun — that “life” is always scheduled to begin next week, next month, next year, after the holidays — whenever. But then suddenly you’re old and the scheduled life didn’t arrive. You find yourself asking, ‘Well then, exactly what was it I was having — that interlude — the scrambly madness — all that time I had before?”
― Douglas Coupland, Life After God
It doesn’t mean you’re trying to relive your youth, quite the opposite. It means you’ve matured to the point where you realize that life is fleeting and if you don’t enjoy every moment of it you’re going to leave this earth with some regrets. Sure, there are those that do fall into the mid-life crisis mode, but I think from personal experience that most are people just like me and soon you, just people who have somehow become that old lady or man on the outside but who still feels, thinks, and lives like the person in his/her youth.
When you’re 50 you realize the next car you buy may be your last. The next appliance won’t need the same 30-year guarantee ’cause you likely won’t be here to redeem it, and that short of being the person you want to be, there really isn’t anything left for you here to prove.
So, to all my other elderly fans and friends, here’s to saying screw what you all think of me, I’m going to enjoy my golden years. And yes, as the famous poem reads, I may wear purple and I may do it in the car I’ve always wanted to drive. Who knows, I only know that if you’re very, very lucky, someday you’ll get to make the same choices. So until then, please be kind when judging people for their choices – it may not be a mid-life crisis but just a chance to live out his/her dreams.
Previous Posts on Aging: