As a long-standing member of the baby booming Gen-Xers, we weren’t supposed to age; that’s what our parents and grandparents did. While they accepted the aches and pains of arthritis and kept a stiff upper lip in the face of double chins, crepey skin, sagging backsides, and bulging midriffs, we expected to stay 21 forever. Idealistic, indestructible, and invincible, like the Great Pyramid of Giza standing behind me in this picture. Built over 4,000 years ago, it was meant to last forever, though I doubt the same will be said of me. But in truth, after climbing sixty steps of life, I’m no worse for wear, and I’m actually enjoying the view. Though if you had asked my perception of life ten years ago, I would have said, the better part of it lay in the rear-view mirror. But then that little voice inside—like Sri on your navigation system whispered: Live the life you have dreamed! It sounded like a wild and crazy concept. How do I live the fall and winter of my life with the same gusto I did in the spring and summer of my life? As I look back at that moment, I can’t help but laugh. Had I lost the will to live? I hadn’t lost it; I surrendered it, there is a huge difference.
At a certain point, we shelve the dreams of youth for adult responsibilities, and yet, every now and then, we run across their mementos. Like that old tennis racket in the back of the closet, we take it out and shadow swing a few backhands to remind us of what it once felt like to be young and full of promise. Then with solemn remembrance, we give a farewell salute to our former self. Resigned to the aging factor, we close the closet door and accept the harsh reality.
But should we?
Fifty is the seasoned age of life when we’re wise enough not to repeat the mistakes of youth, but still young enough not to give up on our dreams. For those with grown children, chances are they’ve moved on with their lives. It’s our time. Time to cut another slice from the pie of life and reconnect with our inner self; the one we said farewell to that now roams the hallowed halls of consciousness, crying out to be set free. I am reminded of a tribute to life in Edith Piaf’s ballad; Non, Je ne regrette rien, No, I regret nothing.
Regrets are those haunting silhouettes we entertain in private of the risks we didn’t take, the dreams we failed to realize, and the missed opportunities they may have presented. And when the time comes for me to go gently into that good night, I, too, will have no regrets. Don’t allow fear to rob you of your dreams while you can still breathe the breath of a new day. Grab life by the tail, and take it for a ride!