Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

The Middle Age

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I’m going to be 50 years old in a little over a month, and for the past few months I’ve been getting acclimated to the idea. Like on a hot day, when you have to ease yourself slowly into the cold water of the swimming pool. The feet go first, and it feels good, and you think this won’t be so bad. Then, when you step down deeper, the water reaches your knees and gives you a shock. You shiver a little bit but as you stand there you realize you can handle it. ┬áBut you know what’s coming. You put it off for as long as you can, but you can’t stand on the steps in the shallow end forever, so you take the next step, and the water covers your backside and all the air whooshes out of your body and you close your eyes and concentrate on how good it will feel eventually. The last part is the hardest – lowering yourself fully into the pool so that the cold water covers your chest and your head. Holding your breath, you force yourself under and hold there for a few moments. Then you surface and suddenly you feel fantastic! The water is amazing – silky and suddenly warm and lovely on your skin. You kick off towards the deep end wondering why it took you so long get in.

That’s how I feel about turning 50. I’m up to my knees, holding off the inevitable, but knowing that as soon as I fully embrace the idea it’s going to be amazing.

These big birthdays always bring out the contemplative me, and I like to look back on my life to see what I’ve done (and not done). This one is no different, but I find myself looking more at the small moments than the big life changing ones. If I had to guess why that is, my guess would be that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become far more interested in what lies ahead of me than what has gone before. This has been a gradual, but seismic, shift in my thinking, and one that I welcome. I read a quote on the internet today that was so true it made me gasp: “Forgiveness is giving up the hope of a better past.” I have come to accept my past, the good and the bad, and now I’m looking forward to this next phase of my life with tremendous anticipation.

Life here in the Middle Ages has gotten really good. Not that I’m more financially successful than I’ve ever been – I’m not. What’s different is that I’ve finally stopped measuring my success by how much money I make or how glamorous my job is. And even more importantly, I’ve stopped listening to people who keep score that way.

I am, more than any time since my college days, figuring out who I am and what I want. I am becoming more myself as each day passes, and, what is more, I am learning how not to be afraid of that. I have opened myself to accept the love and grace that God/the Universe (or whatever you want to call the Divine Spirit that inhabits us all) wants to give me. I accept the gifts that are beginning to shower on me, and I embrace the unexpected miracles to come.

I am also meditating on the notion that I can have the life I want right now. There is no idealized past or unrealized future that is as tangible as the here-and-now of my life today. When I get that in my head and in my heart, I am free to fully inhabit myself, to love extravagantly, and to be truly at peace. If this is what it means to be middle aged, I’m good with that.

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