The second half of life? Playing on the back nine? One foot in the grave? I’ve heard it all now that I am over fifty years old. The truth of the matter is, no one ever knows how much time they have left. However, I am now able to look back on over fifty years of life and benefit from the wisdom I have gained while riding the waves of the roller coaster.
That curly haired blue eyed “child” Robin was once asked: “What’s happiness?” I remember answering, “Getting everything you want!” It took me about thirty years to realize that the true answer was “Accepting what you’ve got.” While traveling the world, it’s been easy to see cultures that have embraced this concept; Bali and Japan come to mind. By accepting our present lot in life, it doesn’t mean that we cannot strive for more, set goals, or seek change. It simply means being in the present moment, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, but living in the NOW. When I find myself forgetting to do this simple, but often difficult task, I focus on the natural environment around me (sky, trees, birds, etc) to ground myself back into the present. There is a Chinese proverb that states, “When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh.” They laugh, not because they find us ridiculous, but because they know the future is not predictable, and we have no choice but to live in the day we are living. What percentage of your day is spent on worrying about tomorrow or rehashing something from yesterday?
Fifty years have also given me the hindsight to know that everyone is an individual who deserves the respect, love, and kindness that we once gave them before we learned how to be mean, judgemental, ignorant, selfish, and bossy. It takes time and conscious energy to “unlearn” the schoolyard behaviors. The next step is to ask yourself, what am I doing to help/mentor/coach/serve other people? Being retired or semi-retired allows us more time to serve others.
I have learned that the best therapy sometimes is a drive and music.
I have now realized that you can fashion, shape and choose what kind of life you will have. You cannot choose whether or not you or your children will get sick, or if hardships come to you, but you can choose how you will react to them. In the last ten years, I have realized that living through difficult times has made me more compassionate, empathetic, and understanding. It has opened my eyes to new friends, new ways of thinking, and new ways of living. I was definitely upset, angry, and stressed when the hard times hit, but I have learned to cope, gain strength, and keep on going. I have become resilient.
I also realized that I spent over fifty years doing a lot of talking. These days, I’m doing a lot more listening. I’ve found these two phrases to be quite useful. Give them a try next time an argument ensues.
- You might be right
- I don’t know
Part of being over fifty is that if you have children, they are most likely adults. Adults can make their own choices, and live with the consequences. Sometimes “parents” forget that. I have worked hard to get to the place where I understand that my children are on their own journeys in life, and their journeys do not involve me asking them what they are doing or giving them advice that is unsolicited. When I think of my children, this quote comes to mind:
“Trying to cram her sparkly star shaped self into society’s beige square holes, she chose to embrace her ridiculous awesomeness and shine like the freaking supernova she was meant to be.”
It’s that time in life when reflection becomes important. I started to ask myself, what activities do I really love to do? Do I spend enough time doing them? I realized that I love to dance, but don’t spend nearly enough time doing it. Now, I crank the tunes when I get ready every morning and dance my way through my “get dressed” routine. I also hit music festivals and clubs (the kind that welcomes our age group) to dance when I can. What do you want to spend more time doing?
I’ve found that heartfelt discussions with close friends top my list of “how to have fun.” Here’s a list of some questions that can get the ball rolling with those discussions:
If you aren’t over fifty, and you have mastered these skills already, you are ahead of the game. You should probably be blogging about it!