As I sit here typing this, I can’t help but think about how excited I am to turn 50 in two and a half months. I have, actually, been looking forward to the big day for some time, now. Not only is it a significant life-event that will only come once in my life, but it means (at least symbolically) that I can cast aside “the toys of youth” and finally find myself La-Z-Boy recliner to call, “favorite.”
Unfortunately, another realization slapped me across the face like a cold fish that pulled my head out of the ether: I am also starting to feel 50. I have to admit I did see this one coming. Waking up has become a chore. My left hip hurts if I sleep on it too long. My ear hairs are turning gray. All that I can ignore, but the general sense of fatigue that hits me around 4 PM every day is starting to piss me off.
I know that aging is a natural process. That is cool with me: the alternative sucks. As a result, one cannot expect to roll out of bed with the ease—and smooth, taut skin—that one did when they were in their twenties, but life doesn’t seem to have stayed with the program. These days, I have more jobs (now, out of necessity), more responsibilities, and less time to manage my life. Sadly, I have less energy than ever before, so you can imagine my dilemma.
I know that I am not alone in this, though. All of us who are almost done with our all too brief sojourn through middle-age go through this. Lives become more complicated, as time goes on. We become more complicated. We get married, have kids, build careers, and establish legacies: all of them taking on lives of their own that criss-cross, overlap, and implode at one point or another. No wonder we’re so tired.
Just when I got used to the idea of my mortality, I had to end up feeling mortal. Life is so cruel, sometimes.
If memory serves me, correctly, twenty years ago I was on the phone with my friend, Mark, around this time, raving about Madonna’s new album Ray of Light. Today, I spent ten minutes explaining to a friend of mine via my car’s Bluetooth why I haven’t entertained the idea of getting a colonoscopy. “You’re supposed to get one at 50, you know,” she said, “and every five years after that.” Just when you think things couldn’t get worse.
Hit by a moment of bone-crushing reality, I realized something: I have turned into one of those guys. Things hurt. Nothing moves the way it used to. Everything takes twice as long. Despite all these issues, I refuse to go to the doctor. When did my philosophy of health become “if it doesn’t bleed or fall off it’s ok?” Regardless, I have never been as grateful, as I am now, that I have health insurance.
So, before I fully complete my transformation into a living, breathing cliché, I need to come up with an action plan. Waiting for life to slow down isn’t an option; that never works and when it does it usually involves things like arthritis or unemployment to spice things up. I say, “No,” to that noise.
A change in tactics is necessary. Life obviously won’t meet me where I am at, so I will have to modify my life to better suit my current situation. Ultimately, I need to make cuts. Lots and lots of cuts in multiple areas in my life. The problem is, the “me” in my head still thinks he can do it all; the rest of this big bag of meat just wants to take a nap.
I am still happy to turn 50 in April. For me, it feels like an accomplishment of sorts. When I look in the mirror, I see how my body and face have changed. The way I carry my self is different. There is even a hint of wisdom around the eyes. I see a man looking back at me and I like the way that feels. I may have saved the hard work for last, however, without realizing it. Who knew?
Encountering resistance in a situation, such as this, is perfectly natural, so I won’t beat myself up over that. I feel that the trick, here, is not to attach too much meaning to the aches, pains, wrinkles, and freaky, little purple veiny things around my ankles and surrender to the process. More than likely, my body knows best. If it asks me to “slow down” then I who am I to say no? Now, if the subject of colonoscopies comes up, I fully intend never to speak to it, again.
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