This week I turned 50, which of course has me thinking about how my first half-century has progressed. We usually associate birthdays with celebration but I like to think about what it is that I am marking. Birthdays provide a good opportunity for rumination and making plans. Seeing where you've been and where you are going. Though we should never dwell too fondly in the past, nor too stringently plan the future, year 50 offers a chance to see where I'm at and where I'd like to be. Thankfully, aging has become more acceptable, even hip. Thus we hear "50 is the new 40" and other such cutesy sayings. I don't put much store in such things, but one cannot help but notice that people are generally aging better than they used to. My husband and I will go through photo albums, or watch old films, and be shocked by the ages of the people in the snapshots or movies. In the case of old Hollywood, so many actors were heavy drinkers and smokers (and died of related diseases) that they looked 10-20 years older than they were. Of course, we don't see too many older women in the films of the 40s, 50s, and 60s--hopefully that schematic is changing with actresses like Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren still proving that they can sell tickets as they age.
One should neither cling to their youth so tenaciously that they are considering costly and dangerous procedures, nor adopt an attitude of eventual decrepitude that involves mainlining milkshakes and Doritos while watching "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" on the couch. Life can and should provide ample time and space to love, play, do important work and connect in meaningful ways. So, here's what I'm thinking about my track record on a superficial level.
- I've earned four degrees, including a Ph.D.
- I'm a certified yoga teacher
- I've held a teaching job at the same school for 17 years and was awarded a distinguished teaching chair
- My driver's license has my honest weight
- I've saved up for retirement
- I've published and traveled
- I have a child, a husband, and a good relationship with parents, friends and colleagues.
- I've always had an interest in learning and have never thought I know it all. I've looked to broaden and deepen my knowledge.
- I've pursued good health by eating well, studying nutrition, practicing yoga and meditation, learning more about spiritual and healing traditions.
- As a teacher, I have the opportunity to open young minds--as they open mine--and to teach them skills that will enable them to be productive, compassionate and happy.
- I have been mindful of the power of money and have always been independent, taking responsibility for my financial well-being. This awareness has allowed me to help others through charity and service.
- I've read much, written much, and been fortunate to see many places on this globe. All have enriched me.
- I've enjoyed a marvelous relationship with a daughter who is smart, funny, hardworking, beautiful and kind. I've enjoyed every minute of it. I have a loving husband who is a wonderful partner and I've been a good daughter and friend.