If I were turning ten at the end of the month, this would be about stickers. It would be short and sweet because I neither loved to read nor kept a journal when I was ten. I was a talker at ten.
If I were turning twenty at the end of the month, this would be about love. It would be all flush and drama with a few carefully placed song lyrics. Slightly longer, this would be, and full of adjectives.
If I were turning thirty at the end of the month, this would be about my children. It would spotlight the agony and the joy of cleaning up after or clapping for little people. Late-night exhaustion, introspective, and deep in that way things can only be when you’re young but think you’re older.
If I were turning forty at the end of the month, this would be about worries and a dash of reflection. It would speak to making love work. It would be funny and self-deprecating in that way women can be once they’ve found some footing and made some money.
If I were turning fifty at the end of the month, I would want this to be confident, bold, and brave. But it’s not.
I am none of those things at this moment, and while that’s annoying, it’s okay. Sometimes we’re not ready when birthdays show up. Sometimes we have to tear the page and keep going.
Life is difficult. Five decades in, I’m still figuring things out, still doubting myself, still struggling for purchase.
This idea that age brings badassery or saged wisdom is T-shirt nonsense and not my experience. So instead, I offer two things on my milestone.
Louisa May Alcott wrote, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” The key bits here are “learning” and “my ship.” It takes a lifetime to learn oneself, stay in one’s lane. I didn’t know in my thirties that I would still be figuring things out twenty years later. I thought I would reach this point of wisdom, but I haven’t. The learning never ends. The storms are real, and the ship changes.
Also, showing up is truly ninety percent of the game. If you don’t show up, you can’t practice, and practice makes life better. Driving, loving, standing up for oneself, shaving, making a pie, arguing, squeezing out a baby, taking vitamins, making a bed, playing fair, writing sentences, breathing, or doing a load of laundry, everything gets better, less terrifying, with practice.
Mastery of anything seems an illusion or a lie, but we do become more proficient with age. We have more tools and have fumbled through more scenarios. But, the unknowns, surprises, and bumps are still there once the little people have moved out or the skin starts sliding off the skull. All we can do at any age is show up and try again.
So that’s it. I will be fifty at the end of the month and I’m only slightly wiser than I was when I loved Rick Springfield. If it ever appears that I have the answers, I do not. I’ve just been on my ship for a while, had lots of practice.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Kick a Leg Out.