In a little more than 11 months, I’ll turn the big 5-0. Sometimes when I think about this, I simply can’t believe it; me, fifty? Oh, I know many who have gone ahead of me have had similar thoughts, but, still. ME?
At the risk of totally stating the obvious, times are decidedly different from when my great-grandparents, grandparents or even parents turned fifty. Recently, I’ve been doing a bit of genealogy work on Ancestry.com. As I’ve put in birth, marriage and death dates of my ancestors and sometimes been able to upload a picture or two of them, it really has hit home how lucky most of us are now compared to our ancestors; certainly in the areas of education, opportunity, convenience, physical comfort, health and appearance. God only knows what I would have looked like if I had, say, only received an elementary school education, married at 15, popped out ten or more children (likely watching several of them die), lived in a small cabin with no electricity and a dirt floor and worked my butt off on a farm subjected to all of nature’s harshest elements and back-breaking labor for thirty or more years. Yes, I probably would have looked and felt like hell at 40, let alone 50.
Taking it deeper, I know that I have much to be grateful for as I head into my fifties. I also feel quite strongly that I need to be doing something to reflect how grateful I am. Believe me; I’m working hard at figuring out what that is, or, rather, I’m working hard at allowing whatever it is to reveal itself to me.
In any event, a while back, it dawned on me that, due also in some large part to my ancestors and their general tendency to live into their 80s or 90s, I have, quite possibly, another 30-40 years ahead of me and I can’t rely on what I did for the past fifty years to get me through these next several decades. Oh, sure, there are certain things in my tool kit that I’ll be holding onto; it’s never good to throw the baby out with the bathwater and all, but, for the most part, there’s just gotta be some changes a foot.
By way of comparison, when I was in my twenties and thirties, it was all about two things, really; looking good and my career. I worked diligently at both and was more than moderately successful in each. Along the way and by the grace of God, I was surrounded by my wonderfully supportive family, a bunch of fantastic friends and was handed my fair share of good luck.
Now at 49 and some change, I sheepishly admit I still want to look good, however, it’s not all vanity speaking. I’ve learned a thing or two about myself over the years and one thing is this: If I don’t feel good physically (weight, energy level, mental alertness and, yes, appearance), than not much positive is going to happen; certainly, my mood won’t be positive. So, if I am convinced I need to be giving back somehow, it will be a deal breaker if I don’t have the motivation to get out there and do it.
Anyway, I’ve decided to use this Blog to capture my journey to 50; what I’ve done up to now, what I want to do, what I actually do and everything in between. I want to embrace 50! I want to be at the position when I hit that milestone to go forward into the next thirty or forty years prepared for what comes and ready to make a difference.
Back to my ancestors. Chances are by the time they hit 50 or thereabouts, many of them were ready to retire to a rocking chair on the front porch. And, who could blame them? I know I owe a lot to my elders: “The glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.” Proverbs 20:29. The fact that they earned their gray hair early due to the times they lived in is just the way it was.
Thankfully, the way it is now means that I can head into the next decade of my life rockin’ the years in an entirely different way.