What does it mean to be fifty? I haven't a clue. I'm still wrestling with issues from forty-five.
One difference, though: at fifty, I don't feel like I have my shoulders pinned to the mat.
And this surprises me. I mean, purely from a physical standpoint, I have gone from acceptable if not noteworthy to just this side of frail. Or so it seems to me, anyway; I filled up an entire Dumpster with the detritus of my last ten years yesterday, carting roughly a ton of junk across the parking lot, and I felt like I'd been juggling bowling balls. It doesn't help that I still have about 800 lb of stuff to go. (Why didn't I finish? The answer is in that word "filled".)
But that massive disposal operation is ultimately a metaphor for Where Things Stand at the beginning of my second half-century. For roughly twenty years, I've been more or less content to go with the flow, to let the chips fall, to pile up the clichés. Something I'm not sure what has set up a diversion. Something has changed. And perhaps that's my task for the next five years: to figure out exactly what that something may be.
So I have to clean yet another house, sort through the emotions, the neuroses, the random thoughts, find out what's worth keeping and what can be tossed. It's a scary proposition, to say the least. Yet somehow, I'm not particularly scared.
And maybe, just maybe, that's what's changed. Fear may do you some good when you're younger; at fifty, it's just one more thing that gets in the way. While I'm not about to claim that I've suddenly become hell on wheels, I'm reasonably certain that the person I was at forty-five, while he might have made noises about, say, driving across the country or buying a new home, would never have followed through.
Things are about to get very interesting indeed.
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Copyright © 2003 by Charles G. Hill