You either turn 50 or you don’t.
If you’re lucky enough to get there, the past trails behind you like the wake of a ship. Mostly, memories surface and bob about a bit. Those close to the horizon you can barely make out. Other times though, the past lies in wait to leap out at you from behind a bush. That is what happened for me. It’s what led me to do these 50 new things for turning 50. It’s what brought me here.
I was turning 49 when it started. An unease I couldn’t seem to shake. It was when this feeling sharpened driving in traffic, in lanes that seemed too narrow, and in which collision seemed likely that I made the connection.
In that moment I was 16 again and it was my mother who was just turning 49. It was the Australia Day weekend and we were driving down to our usual South Coast camping spot. We didn’t make it. At Bowral we were hit by a truck.
In that almost missed blink of a circumstance my mother lost the life she had. I guess we all did really, but you get on and it seems to me that most lives are about breaking open and putting back together. It still came as a shock to me though when I was turning 49 to be so confronted again by this past. To feel it’s clammy hands reach out to me across the decades. To feel as if I might not make it to 50. To fear I might be blindsided again by that sudden crush of metal on metal.
But I made it.
So while I can understand the swirling mix of emotions such decade birthdays can bring, for me, turning 50 brought both a sense of relief and the desire to celebrate. Being as I am, completely useless at parties I happened upon the idea of trying to do 50 new things during my year of turning 50.
I didn’t start the year with a set list. I had some notions to begin and followed breadcrumb trails of ideas into adventures of many kinds.
There was only incidental ﬂinging from high places.
There were many shades of grey but mostly in outcrops of weathered sandstone.
These 50 new things for turning 50 spill across from the silly to the sublime, the indulgently frivolous and the difficult, the giving and the receiving. Some are big moments, others are very small. They include the shocking and unexpected. Some I planned and sought out. Some ambushed me. Many opened up my heart. One broke it.
Don’t get me wrong. Like most people I love to wrap myself up in habits and snuggle blissfully into their comfort. At the same time, I have the sense, that at least for me, this being open to new experiences, taking a new path, trying a new thing and seeing the world from a new angle makes a difference.
Life’s a complicated thing and I’m certainly no ageing Pollyanna. Through all of this, the normal every day stuff that delights and exasperates, enriches and exhausts.
All up..it was an ordinary/extraordinary year of doing 50 new things for turning 50, so whether you have found your way here as friend, acquaintance or stranger you are most welcome.