Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I'm still standing

When I was in my late teens, early twenties, I remember looking forward to the Year 2000. That’s what it was called then – none of this Millennium business. Back then I remember thinking that I would be like THIRTY-SEVEN when it happened. My life would be over. I would be an Old Person who couldn’t truly appreciate such a momentous event.

Actually it turned out to be something of a damp squib.

R was working in IT for an insurance company, and had been bribed with a seriously large amount of money to come into work on January 1 2000 to do the Millennium Bug testing. So I spent the evening backing up my computer in anticipation of the chaos that would ensue the next morning, then we went outside to watch the fireworks with the neighbours, drank a couple of glasses of fizz and went to bed shortly afterwards rather than partying all night.

Last week I turned 50.

That 37 year-old seems to be a whole different person, almost from another country. So young, so full of ambitions and plans. With a whole life left to live, with a house move and complete change of lifestyle still to come. That was, of course, in the Before.

The 50 year-old face that looks back at me in the mirror doesn’t look all that different on the outside. Sure there are a lot more lines, and the jaw line is starting to sag a little. There’s rather more grey in the hair than I really want to see. The body is starting to slow down more than I like to admit, and I seem to spend a lot of time searching for my glasses. But on the whole it is pretty much the same as it was 13 years ago.

Inside, though. That’s a whole different matter. There are lumps and bumps. Tender spots. Scars. Closed-off doors to rooms that aren’t visited any more. Emotional muscles that are only just coming back into use.  But it is healing. Slowly. Even though some of the tender spots will be there forever.

The 50 year-old me doesn’t have many ambitions any more. She just wants to live and enjoy living for as long as possible.  Having experienced at close quarters the sheer crappy randomness of the whole life and death thing, it really is enough just to be here. To walk out in the glorious crisp, cold sunshine on a day like today and feel its warmth on my skin. To live in the present and make the most out of every moment.

50 not out. It’s not a bad score.

I wonder what the next half-century holds.


  1. "Emotional muscles that are only just coming back into use." Oh I like that. And I am very much looking forward to warm sun on the skin(in may case, exceptionally far more wrinkled skin than just the not quite 4 years yet Before; back then I was still, well - 38. My skin has taken a serious and direct hit!)

    Happy birthday, you.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday! It is so great to hear about all the joy in your life. I love this post. It really is enough just to be here and enjoy life. I need to remind myself of that too often, but it is so true. I wish that hard earned wisdom had come earlier and at a much smaller price. I wish you much happiness and sweetness in your 50th year.

  3. Thank you both - I'm not sure I have yet fully come to terms with the idea of being 50, but it beats the alternative!

  4. I recently turned 48, and so much of what you write here is true for me, too. It feels so good to have fewer ambitions, to be able to marvel at and treasure things I hardly noticed when I was 36. The speed at which time passes has surprised me. That time has passed has surprised me more. I want to spend the next 13 years with my head up, all the time, every day.

  5. J - am turning 50 next year ... and find myself wanting only to change down a gear, some peace and tranquility ... a nice holiday each year .... time with peeps who mean the world to me .... time with my dog .... and enough money to eat well and not worry, but no hankering for the big salary anymore, nor the BMW style cars or lifestyle. Meh to all that. There is so much more to this life ... and money is bottom of the list. I loved this post. A. LOT. Love that you're getting your house sorted, room by room. I'm proud of you. xxx