April 16th is here again and I now find myself half way between 50 and 60 years of age. It is both exciting and surreal. I often find myself contemplating my life and it’s eventual end this time of year. This post is not meant to be too deep or depressing. It is meant to inspire us all to enjoy the wild, crazy, unpredictable ride that is our life.
In our culture there is a predictable pattern to how we age. Young children have no real concept of time. As toddlers and primary school age children we live completely in the moment. Imagining the world before we were born or trying to imagine ourselves as old men and women are equally absurd imaginings in our young minds.
As we enter our teens and twenties we have become aware of time but we somehow feel we are immune to it’s progression. We see ourselves as part of an invincible generation. The movers, shakers, and innovators. Forever young. And, oh, we inherited a unfair mess of a planet that we have to try to save. Previous generations obviously didn’t have it together like we do. Why do we have to sort out the mess?
As we move further and further into adulthood there are uneasy chuckles and milestone parties as we turn 30 and then 40. We realize we are getting older but occupy our minds with career and family. Anything that keeps us from staring our own mortality in the face. We try hard not to notice that our parents are beginning to look a bit frail or that every stranger addresses us as sir or mam.We haven’t saved the world yet and we don’t feel as invincible as we once did. As we shift our attention from our youthful ambitions to dreams of our children’s future, it begins to become more apparent to us during this time of our lives that we all have a built in obsolescence. It is this acceptance of the passage time that drives us to establish a purpose for living and derive meaning from our life experiences.
Ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves what our lives are all about. What we hope to experience, what we hope share with others, and what we hope to leave for future generations. Spiritual practices, philosophies, and science can all guide our thoughts and understandings of the world around us but after all the books are read it is us alone that chooses what our truth is and what our path will be.
I have always known at some level that I wanted to experience as much of the world as possible. To connect with people in the present as well as feel a sense of connection to those who have gone before me and those who will follow in generations to come. I have come to see the human race as a collective whole. I do not feel so much like it is my personal story only that I am writing but rather I am adding a chapter to a story much bigger than I can even imagine. My main hope is that I may be of service and inspiration to others. That is tricky because I am so very human and I have had many less than inspirational moments in life. I do believe in forgiveness and grace. For you, it may be the belief that things work out in the end or that people eventually “get over it”. Either way, I hope to leave this life doing more good than harm and become a wiser, more compassionate person from having learned from my mistakes.
Looking back over the last five years I am filled with gratitude for what this decade has brought me so far. Travel and exploration, a new home, a new name, trail running, hiking, biking, and countless memories with family and friends. Of course, there have been struggles as well. Injuries and arthritis, hormone imbalances, my constant battle with weight, anxiety, work challenges, the loss of my beloved uncle Larry and one of my cats, Rushette. Each of the struggles has given me the opportunity to grow and better define who I am. I feel more in touch with my humanity with each passing day.
Life is a wild, crazy, unpredictable ride. Like a roller coaster, it has lots of great highs and heart pounding lows. And like a fearless teenager, I hold me hands in the air and let out a happy scream knowing that when the ride stops I will have a big grin on my face for having got on.
As always, I would love to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts on birthdays or aging?
Until next time,
I love your main hope, to be of service and inspiration to others. I hope that as well but confess I more often than not get too caught up in my own struggles to see the bigger picture. For me, life is a journey to God, and he has given us everything we need to find him, including our joys and sorrows along the way, difficulties laced with grace sufficient for the moment, all of which are the very tools we need to become the person God created us to be. I like your writing, Laura!
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Thanks Katie 🙂
In a lot of ways, the 50s has been my favorite decade of life! I’m going for it in lots of ways and not holding back like in my younger days. My kids are grown and I’m ready for new adventures. The wisdom I’ve gained.over time helps me live more fully and I appreciate what’s really important. We have a lot of great things yet to experience!
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Thanks Anita 🙂 I agree there is a lot left to experience. This is my favorite decade so far. I think this time of life offers a certain freedom we could not fully appreciate in our youth. It is cool that 33 years later you and I still have a lot in common!
I’ve always loved birthdays…more excuses to indulge. Even as I approach 60 I’m still excited and inspired by the many older people I’m around that are motivated, energetic and kind. Happy Birthday…continue the celebration!
Thank you 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree! I find inspiration all around me as to how to age well.