Last evening I was trying to articulate why turning 50 was so difficult for me. I’m a lucky woman: I look several years younger than I am, and I act even younger than that. It is, I joke, a reflection of my natural immaturity.
I didn’t flinch when I turned 30. Forty was freeing. But 50 knocked me off my feet, and a year and a half later, I still haven’t completely regained my balance. Despite my aches and pains, lack of sleep and the unavoidable (or so I’m told) belly flab, I truly don’t look or feel like I’ve been alive for half a century. Where in heaven’s name did all those years go?!? It can’t be possible that more than half my life is behind me.
My arrival at the half-century mark arrived in the middle of a multi-year sea of loss. The older you get, the higher it piles, until absence becomes the background noise of your life. With luck and practice, we each fill the empty spaces with enough joyful noise and bursts of color that we don’t notice the gray lying half-buried underneath.
Life, like the seasons, ebbs and flows, and the weather outside my window certainly reflects the current dormancy in my life. As I make the long slog through this cold, dark, snowy winter season, I’m suddenly tired of simply existing. I’m ready for spring – season of hope and possibility – in more ways than one. It’s time to break out, move forward.
But into what? I’ve started casting around, trying on new ideas like a fresh wardrobe. The perfectionist adult in me wants just the right thing, something I can succeed in. But the messy, color-outside-the lines part of me – the rebel that has emerged only during the last few life-is-short years – knows that I just need to take a step, any step, to move forward.
Pushing myself toward the unknown is a leap of faith that’s hard for me. The faith part I have down: I’m still standing, aren’t I? It’s the leap I fear. Will I fall, or will I fly? Either way, I hope I do it laughing.