I’m turning fifty in a month. I’m not happy about it. I’m not gonna lie.
If I was going to lie, I would say this:
Numbers mean nothing to me. They’re just numbers. I don’t even pay attention to them!! I’m a free spirit!! Free spirits don’t pay attention to numbers because numbers are oppressive. They’re a tool used by The Man to oppress the masses. I am oppression-free. You think my name is Z, but it’s really Flower-Essence-Gamma-Ray-Oblivious-To-All-Numbers-La-La-La. And that’s only my first name!!
Did you buy that?
Melissa, my sweetheart, suggested we have a big party for my birthday. I explained to her that my reaction to turning fifty is like a wound. It is healing, slowly and steadily, but it is still a wound.
I then explained that celebrating my fiftieth birthday would be like poking the gradually-healing wound. Let’s have a party! Poke poke poke. Isn’t this fun? Poke poke poke. Isn’t this just the best . . . Wait, why is that wound bleeding? Poke poke poke. What’s the matter? Poke poke poke. We’re just having a little celebration!
Needless to say, Melissa dropped the subject pretty quickly after that.
I’m not saying that I’m not happy about getting older. There are a lot of things I like about it.
Every year, I care less and less what other people think about me. That’s pretty cool.
And the older I get, the more I seem to embrace all aspects of myself, including things I used to reject. That’s not bad either.
I’m more patient with myself. And others.
My understanding of Spirit seems to grow every year. I seem to sink deeper into my heart. And I’m less inclined to get stuck in self-defeating mental loops.
But still. This fifty thing bugs me.
Several years ago, my ex-partner turned fifty. My father sent her a birthday card. I don’t remember what was on the outside of the card, but I remember what it said on the inside. One sentence, just one sentence, in my father’s handwriting.
Welcome to the other side.
If I think about it now, that’s what bugs me about turning fifty. Not that I might get a similar card from my father, but that I’m crossing a huge divide. At least in my mind.
I’ve been on the “young side” and I’m about to move over to the “old side.”
I’ve never cared about numbers before, at least not as far as birthdays. But fifty is a marker from youth to age. That’s why it bothers me. I don’t want to cross that line. I want to stay on the young side, the zippy side, the cool side.
But who’s to say I’m right? Who’s to say what side is better? Maybe the other side, the side I’m heading toward, has gifts and blessings that I can’t even imagine. How would I know? I’ve never been there.
Besides, Spirit is eternal. Or so I believe. And turning fifty is a chance for me to walk my talk. To understand that at the level of my essence, my core, I am not my body. I am not my age. I cannot be reduced to mere cells or molecules or mental hang-ups about numbers.
Did you buy that?
Honestly, I’m not there yet.
How could I be? I’m still a baby. I’m still in my forties. I have yet to understand what it’s like to cross that divide. To stand among my fellow elders.
And I’m not going to understand it that much better in a few months.
But I will eventually. And I’m hoping I make a good elder. An honest one. A happy one. Someone who accepts everything about herself, including her age.
In the meantime, I get to wade through my current experience. I get to carve out a space for all the parts of me – the little gremlin that hates turning fifty and the wise elder who doesn’t give a rip about age.
They can have a party inside me, those two.
Who knows what they might do? Toilet paper my house. Dance to “We Are Family” and “I Will Survive.” Set off fireworks. Make cookies and stay up till all hours playing charades.
Now that’s a party I’d like to attend.
What numbers have been your markers? Which ones did you resist? Which ones did you embrace?