Sunday, July 03, 2011

What 50 has taught me

At 50, I thought I would understand more than I do. I thought I would finally "get" people and better understand motives and drive and ambition. I thought I might care less for the things that promised so little, see more clearly purpose ... and right from wrong.

And love. and fear. and faith.

And what it means to care.

And care is different from love, you know? It is. I learned that at 50. Just because someone says they love another, doesn't really mean they care - because love can be selfish. We can love others selfishly.

I learned that quite some time ago.

It's the caring that's the revelation.

We have a legal term that defines when someone does not have a surviving parent to care for them - though to say it, for me, feels harsh and unkind and I would hope I would never be so thoughtless or insensitive as to use it casually in any conversation I might have. Just the word orphan pierces my heart.

... does not have a surviving parent to care for them...

In fiction we find that a lack of parents leaves characters to pursue more interesting and adventurous lives, by freeing them from familial obligations and controls, and depriving them of more prosaic lives. Authors create orphaned characters that are self-contained and introspective.

In the non-fiction of my life, however, I see it played out in other ways as there are many moments in our days where we feel as if no one cares. While we would respond wholeheartedly that we are loved, in the quiet of our hearts we all too often wonder if there is anyone who really ... truly ... cares.

I think it's that uncertainty that someone cares that has sabotaged the growth of humanity or community - heck, even our families and friendships and marriages - and how we raise our kids and our pets. How we are churched. How we are governed. It whispers to us when our assessments and achievements of life still feels empty. It lurks on the fringes of our minds and clamors to find a solid place in our hearts.

... But, BUT, does anyone really care?

50 taught me that.

50 taught me that my days suddenly seem and feel more numbered. I have fewer days ahead of me, for sure, than I now have behind me. It taught me that what I might have been even subconciously waiting for should be pursued ... with my whole heart ... because it might not happen.

50 taught me the value of friends ... friends that truly care AND truly love me. Lucky me. Lucky, lucky me.

50 taught me that our bodies really do change - and now it may take work to shape them the way we want them to be.

50 taught me that dragons can be slayed, that forgiveness is a force, that sometimes we have to go back before we can ever move forward. 50 forced me back and now I am moving forward.

50 taught me that fear has kept me from living life fully, that facing people and darkness and pain is better than turning away. That in the facing of fear we discover that fear itself is a coward and cowers when challenged. Sometimes it dissolves before our very eyes. Fear is far weaker than life.

50 taught me that.

And 50 taught me about faith, a life changing faith, an inspirational faith, a non-human powered faith, a faith that says, yes instead of maybe, a faith that takes risks instead of reserves.

I guess it's true then as one author has said, "... suddenly you find - at the age of 50 ... that a whole new life has opened before you."

It has for me. And I suspect it has for you...


Vicki said...

I love this!!..especially the "forgiveness is a force", and that "fear is a coward and cowers when challegned". Turning 50 has allowed me to challenge my fears and to jump into the force of forgiveness in new and liberating ways! Thanks for continuing to inspire me with your words!

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