Something really uncharacteristic has come over me lately: I do NOT want to turn 50. I’m having all sorts of resistance to it. That’s not like me at all. My usual take on getting older is that, given that death is the only alternative to aging, I’d rather age.
Reminding myself that it’s better than death is not exactly a huge endorsement of aging, but I’m also a big believer in Reality. My resistance to the big 5-0 has taken a strong turn towards a refusal to celebrate. On my 40th, I had a big party with tons of people. For my 50th, I can’t wrap my head around that at all. I can imagine dinners with a few friends, getting together with family, but not a festive bash where everyone comes to celebrate my big day.
Maybe that’s okay, but the more general mindset of resistance to aging is not going to do me any good. To push past it, I like to remind myself of a few things.
- I’ve never in my life been so physically healthy and fit. I could easily take on myself at 20, 30, or 40 and out-perform her in a triathlon. That’s some kind of awesome. Go almost-50 year-old me!
- Harriet Thompson. This is the 91 year-woman who just completed the San Francisco marathon. It took her 7:07:42, a new age-group record for the 90 and over group. That’s another kind of awesome. It’s not just amazing that she completed the marathon. I think we underplay the accomplishments of those who are out there for longer. If I can stay on my feet, running, for over 7 hours when I’m 90 (that’s if I make it to 90), I’ll be pretty satisfied!
- Age is just a number that doesn’t mean a whole lot. On my 50th birthday, I’ll just be one day older than I was the day before. And that happens every single day anyway. So what’s the big deal?
- I’m not turning 50 alone. Sam is going to check it out a few weeks before me. Tim Horton’s, Canada’s favourite place to get coffee and donuts, was also born in 1964. So were Michelle Obama, Sandra Bullock, Courtney Cox, Courtney Love, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Lenny Kravitz, Marissa Tomei, and most of the people I graduated from high school with.
- Lots of people have turned 50 before me and I always told them they weren’t old (and I even meant it).
- That quote about forty being the old age of youth, and fifty being the youth of old age. I just love that. It makes me feel like something new and exciting is about to begin.
When I think of all the things I wished I could do before I turned 50, there really aren’t many that I haven’t done.
And there are just a few left on the list, and I’m all on track to doing them between now and September 24th: an Olympic distance triathlon in Bracebridge in August, Burning Man, and another Olympic distance triathlon in September. I’m warming up with two shorter events: the Cambridge Sprint on June 15th, and the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon in July.
Sam and I are writing a book about our fittest by 50 challenge, and we’re excited about the project. My bike skills are improving weekly. Today is the first day that I actually feel excited to go out riding the road bike, almost no trepidation at all.
Here’s my favourite birthday message to give to people: older, better. I’ll look forward to hearing the same on September 24th!