So this is … 50?!
I have been adulting for a long time now, it would seem. As my dear old Uncle Mike* used to say, as of a certain age, “I’m … plenty.”
I know I’m supposed to make some wise observations at this “milestone” birthday, and sure, 50years have certainly offered many lessons to share! Honestly, though, I’d really rather look forward with y’all.
Because as most of you have, in my average little life, I’ve known great joys and deep sorrows, I’ve cried much and laughed often. I’ve been to sooo many places and have sooo many more to explore. My true friendships have deepened, and I’m learning to ensure folk know where they stand and what they mean to me. Time passes both faster and slower with so much perspective. I pause more, find myself more willing to push for what’s right, and less hesitant to ask for what I want. I’ve grasped my agency with both hands and taken ownership of who I am.
In going through my mom’s belongings after she passed, I was struck by the girl she’d been and the hopes she’d had, some of which I knew but had forgotten. Too, I was reminded of the girl I once was and of my hopes and dreams – and how those changed. We tend to forget that – to take for granted the soft human at our core. I’ve accomplished a lot for myself and for others, and been lifted up more than I care to admit. I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, and certainly not where I might’ve thought I’d be at this point, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate by just about any measure, and am, mostly, in a really good place. It’s of course never good enough, but there’s a super apt quote from Barbara Smith that sums up neatly what this type-A has learned about measuring progress: “Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks with which to beat ourselves.”
For most of my life, I felt like a misfit, but recently realized that I’m more of a chameleon – instead of fitting nowhere, I kind of fit anywhere. I’m a bundle of contradictions, and that’s ok with me: I’m just a queer, fair, freckled earthling, a very liberal feminist, a profane, empathetic, serious, fun-loving atheist humanitarian.
The losses and goodbyes that shape my life – most recently my precious mama, our beloved kitty, our forever home – have strengthened my spine, softened my heart, and put a very fine point on my boundaries and my priorities. (Hash-Tag-Self-Care!) And taught me to find what joy is possible, no matter what. That there are silver linings to absolutely everything. That being kind is far more important than being nice. That there is beauty everywhere, always. That you have to find ways to heal, whether there’s time or not. Life is imbued now with so much more meaning.
As mom always so annoyingly pointed out, the only constant is change (and whew, lawdy, is there plenty of that!), my attitude is literally the only thing I can control, and it will determine how I experience absolutely every moment of my life. The empathy, love and gratitude I hold for my family and friends, who are *unconditionally* everything to me, is truer, deeper, and clearer than ever. As is my vision for my future.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m not exactly sure how to feel about being 50. It sounds so … big. Daunting. OLD! But so many of my favorite people seem to gracefully pass this milestone, even improving (!) in ways I never considered. There is still so much to look forward to! And as my dear old dad often says, aging, while not necessarily for the faint of heart, beats the alternative, as far as we know!
Thank you all for your many kindnesses and generosity – may we all know those gifts, may life be gentle with us. May we bask in the light of wise friends. May we all laugh together again! May we feel safe and enjoy good health! May we stay curious, and may we all find joy, peace and harmony!
OK, well shit – that ended up feeling more like a benediction than the lighthearted remembrance I’d intended – which – hi, we’ve met, right? is so typical of moi.
And seriously, I’m super excited for the future. Still left wondering: Am I Grown Up Yet? (Reader, depending on the circumstances, she is, and she is not.)
Thank you. I love you.
Hey! Watch me age in 4 minutes! 🙈👇
*Post Script re: Uncle Mike. I grew up in a community which strictly disallowed disrespecting elders, so we called them either Aunt or Uncle, or Mr or Mrs. He was one of my mom and dad’s best friends, a Vietnam Vet, and one of the funniest humans I ever met. He knew magic tricks, smoked a pipe, and drove the coolest old truck I’d ever seen. He taught me to fish when I was, like, 9, and assured me that if I went home fishless, I could henceforth call him Uncle Horseshit. Now, tbqh, my desire to catch a fish was a bit at war with my desire to be able to swear with an adult’s permission, (because: NINE), but I did really try. Alas, he was always known after that weekend, affectionately, as my dear old Uncle Horseshit. He passed years ago – I miss him very much and wish him safe journeys.