Earlier this year, I turned fifty. As I approached the milestone age, I wrote a few pieces about how I felt. About those I’ve known over the years who left too early, never to see fifty, or thirty, or even twenty. About how women ‘of a certain age’ are somehow meant to disappear from the narrative, and how I won’t be going quietly (or anywhere!). About how I’m Generation X, and we really don’t give a shit about boxes and being put in them – all we’ve ever tried to do is survive. About how life, which seems so long when you’re twenty, seems so much shorter when you’re fifty.
But none of these pieces seemed to truly articulate what I felt. In the end, I didn’t publish any of them. And I discovered that what I really wanted to do, in fact, was celebrate. Celebrate the fact that I’ve lived through five decades on this tumultuous planet. I’ve done so much over these years, yet wish I’d done more. And I really don’t feel any different to that girl in her vinyl mini skirt and big boots who left home to follow love, even though there is as much time between her and I as there was between her and the day she came into the world. Only what you see in the mirror changes, really.
Time, more than ever, seems to slip through my fingers. And I realise there is so much more I want to do and experience. I know I am fortunate to have choice, to have love, and to experience wonder.
And so, in fifty years, this is (some of) what I’ve learned:
Life is short
Children grow more quickly than you can imagine
Opportunities and people come and go
So dance all the dances,
Sing all the songs
See all the things
Visit all the places
Tell all the stories
Hug all the hugs
Watch the sunset
Watch the sunrise
Count shooting stars
And never, ever be ashamed of your age
Life is a gift, and to be here for another year is something to celebrate
Follow your heart
And see where it takes you
There is so much more, still, to do
Life, as much as possible, is to be lived. So look to the stars, to the night sky, to your dreams. They are free, and no one can take them from you.
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