Older, but not necessarily wiser
I turned 50 last week. Five decades. Half a century. Old enough to remember rotary telephones, turntables and life before the Internet. Positively ancient.
When I was in my mid-20s, my dad turned 50 and someone gave him a coffee cup that said, “It’s nifty to be fifty.” It seemed so far removed from me that I couldn’t imagine being there.
Thankfully, here I am, 50 years old and thinking that it is rather nifty to be fifty, after all. I even have the coffee cup to prove it. Unbeknownst to me, my dad sent the cup to my oldest brother when he turned 50. He passed it on to my other brother, who passed it on to my sister when she hit the half-century mark. She graciously sent it to me as a reminder of my advancing years.
Now I have to hang on to this precious family heirloom for 13 ½ years, until my oldest nephew hits 50. I’ll probably put it somewhere special so it doesn’t get broken and then forget where it is.
I wish I could honestly believe all that hoo-hah about not growing older, simply getting better, but my body tells me it’s a lie. And not a little fib, either, but a big, fat, stinkin’ lie.
At 50, I’m starting to get a sharp, mysterious pain in my hip when I forget to take my calcium supplement. I’ve had bunion surgery three times. If I don’t faithfully go to Jazzercise class, my previously dislocated shoulder starts to ache when I attempt strenuous activity, like washing my hair. If this is better, I think I’ll put off best as long as possible.
I wish, too, that wisdom really did come with age, but the older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize that excessive knowledge rarely equates with wisdom.
I was an insufferable little know-it-all in my early years, and I have a tendency to lapse back into the habit. Some days, I can’t resist the urge to jump into conversations, unwanted and unasked, and offer my two cents. I guess I never got over the agony of knowing the answer and waving my hand desperately in hopes that the teacher would, “pick me, pick me, pick me…”
Gee, maybe I can blame my constant need to sound off on the teacher who didn’t pick me often enough. Or maybe I should just own up and admit that I can still be an insufferable know-it-all when I forget that God gave everyone else a brain, too.
So, for all my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances who have rolled their eyes at my arrogant behavior, let me offer an apology and assure you that I’m working on it. Maybe if I’m given another five decades, I might be able to curb my enthusiasm for needing to have (and share) the correct answer every moment of every day.
Back when I was younger and had three boys running around spreading toys, schoolwork, shoes and clothing all over the house, I always excused the messiness of the house and blamed it on the boys. Now, my husband, Howie the dog and I are the only ones who live in the house, but there are still shoes on the floor, mail piling on the counter and dirty dishes that occasionally spend the night on the counter.
That Howie, he’s such a slob.
Or, to paraphrase the great Walt Kelly, “We have seen the slob, and he is us.”
Although I still believe that life is full of possibilities, and I will do many wonderful and interesting things before I croak, I sadly do not believe that I will ever become a neat and tidy woman who enjoys dusting, organizing her closets or the refreshing scent of toilet bowl cleaner. If only I’d inherited the cleanliness genes. It’s not that I’m a total slob; it’s just that rather than stick to a strict dusting schedule, I’ve discovered it’s much more fun to name the dust bunnies and turn them into family pets.
Some people may think that human beings become recalcitrant and unwilling to change as they grow older. I think it’s more likely that change must be precipitated by desire. Alas, my desire to scrub toilets is no stronger now than it was when I was 25.
I have no words of wisdom to share as I bravely go where millions have gone before me, since the fount of wisdom has yet to begin sloshing over me. I will say, however, that 50 is not the new 30, but certainly has the potential to be the new 47.
I probably won’t age gracefully or act my age, since neither one coincides with my wish to explore new horizons, but I hope to live graciously. At 50, I’m old enough to figure out which one is more important.