Tomorrow is my 50th birthday, which means I've woken up and met a new day 18,250 times -- a mind-boggling number, really. Where do all those days go? How many thousands of first sips of coffee have I had? How many good books have I read? How many good kisses have I given and received? How many friends have I met, kept and lost?
As a very young child, I remember my gramma's 50th birthday, for some reason. She was old! Yet, now I look at pictures of her when she was 50, and she seems, well, like me, or perhaps a little older since she wasn't in as good a shape.
Movement through life seems to start with measurements in minutes, then hours, then days. As we get older and more forward-planning, they seem to move in weeks, months and years. Gramma would say that she still felt like she was 20 when she was 50. She reminisced about being 20 in the late 1930s, The Depression. As a young child, I couldn't believe or understand that a person who was old felt like she was young.
I understand now. I'm in good health, very good health. My body still responds and feels like it is 20, for the most part, except that it takes a bit longer for soreness to go away and I get a bit stiff if I miss a couple of workouts and stretches. Other than that, I'm stronger than I was 30 years ago, smarter, just as speedy, better organized.
All of my close friends are younger than me, except for my friend Dan, who is five years older. I even have some close friends who are 27, another friend who is 31, another who is 36, another who is 38. People my age seem OLD. They walk slower, their brains are muddled, their midsections are bulbous, they lose their breath easily, they can't wait to retire (I'll never do it). They don't keep up with the latest music, movies, gadgets. They seem to live largely in yesteryear or pine for the easy chair in a decade or so.
It's not just my body that's 20; it's my enthusiasm. I can't wait for today, for tomorrow, for the newest gadget, for a new friend, for a fresh conversation, for that first sip of coffee in the morning, for my next workout, for the next admiring look in the mirror at a body that's the result of decades of commitment, for the next race down the street with my lovely daughter or the next water fight with her and her friends.
The one way that 50 is different from 20 in a major way is my perspective about life, about myself. I'm wiser but not a wiseacre. I don't go around anymore thinking I'm better; I just think I'm good. Life is about living, not comparison. Anxiety has evaporated with the cleansing effect of objectivity, and emotions run pleasantly wild with the knowledge that they are good thing, a very good thing. I'm more fun; people are more fun for me. Life is fun.
When I wake up tomorrow morning, I will have lived 18,250 days. It will the beginning of the next 18,250. I'll take my first sip of coffee and kiss my daughter, Livy.
And perhaps I'll nod at the sun while reading my morning paper and say, "You ready for another 50 times around?"