Rising up out of the sand like a behemoth in the background of this picture is the Great pyramid of Giza, built over 4,000 years ago and yet, still largely intact. Leaning out on to the precipice of 60 reflecting, I, too, am still very much intact. Although, I doubt the same will be said of me 4,000 years from now. But in truth, after climbing almost sixty steps of life, I’m no worse for wear and I’m actually enjoying the view.
I was born on the cusp of the Baby Boomer Gen-Xers, and as a long-standing member of the club, we weren’t supposed to age that, was something 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 as an elite hybrid; idealistic, indestructible, and invincible. Does this mean that we should be resigned to the aging agenda of our parents and grandparents, spending the second half of our lives reminiscing about the good ol’ days? I think naught!
Ten years ago, I was 49 idling at a different crossroads with what I perceived as the better part of my life in the rear-view mirror, tauntingly waving at me. All that lay ahead was a barren wasteland. But then that little voice inside—like Sri on your navigation system coaching you to turn or stay the course— whispered: You are eternal. Let go. 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 the introspection of that moment, I can’t help but laugh aloud. Had I lost the power or will to live life? I hadn’t lost it. I surrendered it. There is a huge difference.
At a certain stage of life we shelve the dreams of youth for adult responsibilities to pursue careers and raise families. And yet every now and then we run across their mementos, like an 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 at one with self. 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 its harsh reality. But should we?
Yes, chronologically, our bodies are aging but our spirit is eternal. 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 take a second bite at the apple and cut another slice from the pie of life, to reconnect with our inner self. The one we said farewell to that now roams the hallowed halls of consciousness… 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 and doubt to rob you of your loves and dreams while you can still breathe the breath of a new day and feel the warmth of a setting sun on your face. Grab life by the tail, and take it for a ride!