Friday, December 25, 2009

Fifty is an Even Bigger Number

One can take a multitude of approaches toward aging.

There is the poetic and profound:

The Young Man’s Song by W. B. Yeats
I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough";
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,"
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

There is the concise:

As we grow old…the beauty steals inward. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is the tongue-in-cheek approach, such as this one for soon-to-be-empty nesters:

The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere...and let the air out of their tires. -- Dorothy Parker

I’m rather fond of this folksy truism:

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. -- Mark Twain

Finally, I derive comfort from the following:

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened before you. -- Agatha Christie


Anyone who’s been within close proximity, literally or cyber-ly, to me this fall knows I’ve been moaning and groaning my way toward fifty. Dear Husband and I went the other day to order the cake for Saturday’s birthday pasta party (if the ground blizzards and fitting 50-mph winds don’t keep even in-towners away!). The bakery manager, a cancer survivor and recipient of a two heart stents, told me she’ll hit that number in July and embraces every birthday. She reminded me to do the same. When I wasn’t begging my husband to tell me I looked much younger than her, despite the gray in my hair, he gently pointed out cancer will age a person.

Personally I think the stress eating I’ve done this month has plumped me out so much a wrinkle won’t show until the spring thaw.

But enough about me.

Or at least about this blasted birthday. So I didn’t lose the ten pounds I wanted to, instead managing to find a few. I will, I always do. Beginning now, I’m a full-time free-lance writer, my childhood goal. And for the record, I’m glad I’m not Mrs. Donny Osmond or Mrs. David Cassidy (like there ever was a chance).

And the best piece of advice about this birthday came today from my Great-Aunt Lou, who turns 90 in February.

“It’s just a number, don’t sweat it.”

Thank you poets and scribes and Aunt Lou.

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