A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Having never been this age before, at least in this lifetime, I looked to friends who have surpassed this milestone, for some guidance to what to expect from this point on. I received diverse tidbits of wisdom, some which were reassuring, and others which were downright ominous.
“People will be drawn to the beauty and wisdom of your inner being, not just your outer physical form.” OK, I can live with that.
“The shift of hormones in your body will cause you to come into your power and not take any c**p from anyone anymore.” Gee, I thought that was called PMS.
“If you don’t want to traumatize your children for life, you realize that you will never again be able to wear a swimsuit that shows more than your upper arms and lower legs.” My mind flashed back to a time when visiting the beach with my parents and siblings. We found a picturesque plot of sand looking out over the sun-kissed water, to settle. It was perfect. Perfect until a middle-aged, pasty-skinned, pot-bellied, hairy-backed fellow in a bikini Speedo parked himself right in front of our exquisite spot. He then proceeded to bend over; butt pointed towards our Xanadu, and rolled out his towel on the sand. I still have nightmares.
The comment that stuck me as most astute was offered by an old friend of mine who sensed my trepidation at reaching the big 5-0. “At least you got this far.” Yes, yes I did. An accurate statement, but not the reassuring words of wisdom I had been hoping for. “You are now entering the Fall season of your life. Enjoy it. Celebrate the fact that you will not longer be a naive 20 year old groping for answers. Celebrate the fact that you will no longer give a hoot about what anyone else thinks, because now you have the confidence to know what is best for you.” It made sense. Hmmm. Worth thinking about. The season of Fall, had always conjured up images of things shriveling up, succumbing to gravity and becoming more frigid as time passed. However, looking at Autumn in a positive light, it is a time of plenty when we reap the benefits of what we planted in the Spring and we tended through the Summer.
There’s a band I’ve wanted to see since the 80’s. When they were scheduled to play a concert in Canada, I decided this was the way I wanted to commemorate my 50th – with my close friends on a relaxing weekend retreat, and go see the show. So, we made it happen. At the venue, I was surprised to see all ages attending. An elderly couple that was seated beside me, were in their chairs calmly taking in the surroundings and chatting softly. I noticed that some younger people left their seats to experience the show stage-front. I decided that I wanted to be there too. So I asked my friends if they wanted to join me. Wow! What a rush. What rebels we were, not sitting in our pre-assigned seats. Maybe it was true what my insightful friend had said. I never would have thought of doing that before, but now I did. We made our way up to the stage and squeezed ourselves in-between the attendees half our age. The music was infectious and when I looked behind me, back to our seats, I saw that couple on their feet groovin’ away to the music. At the end of the concert, we headed back to our chairs to collect our things and asked if the couple enjoyed the concert. The lady gave an answer that spoke volumes to me. “At first I thought that I might look foolish if I stood up and danced, but then I just said s***w it! I don’t care what I look like; I’m having a great time.” Yes, age is just a state of mind, isn’t it? We still can (and should) be playful at any age. Playfulness keeps us in a state of discovery.
And as the season of Fall approaches us, let’s try to remember it’s all right not to always worry about what others will think of us if we engage in some mirthful activities. We do ourselves a great disservice when we judge ourselves much more harshly than others do. Young or old, it doesn’t matter; treating ourselves to bit of fun, and trying something new will keep our bodies active, our minds supple and our spirits soaring.