AT 16 I was stupid, confused and indecisive. At 25 I was wise, self-confident and assertive. At 50 I’m stupid, confused, insecure and indecisive. Who would have supposed that maturity is only a short break in adolescence?
So said Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer, someone who always wears his heart and neurosis on his sleeve.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up a 50 year-old, and while I might share Feiffer’s confusion and insecurity, there’s also an undeniable sense of contentment and happiness.
“Forty is the old age of youth,” Victor Hugo said, “and 50 the youth of old age.”
It’s true that no matter what stage of life we’re at, old people are always the ones 30 years our senior.
I visited my father in hospital last week and he introduced me to the nurse as his baby. That definitely takes years off you.
Of course we should never regret growing older – it’s a privilege denied to so many.
That’s what I think each day when I look in the miror; see the grey hairs creeping and lines forming like tributaries around my eyes.
A writer friend of mine in her 80s once told me it’s important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle.
I like that. I love seeing a grin spread on a face that’s creased with age.
After all, a wrinkle is just a reminder of where a smile has been.
I remember my mum telling me when she turned 50, that on the inside, she didn’t feel any different to when she was 18.
I get that now. Though I’d probably say 12 or 13.
There’s an old saying that in middle age you start choosing your cereal for the fibre, not the toy.
Not me. If the cereal companies still indulged us, I’d choose the toy every time.
Yes, our bodies change, but the essence of who we are remains.
I keep waiting for the wisdom of age to arrive, but the truth is, I am, as I’ve always been, just me.
A friend of mine who’s an economist summed up his 50th year more fiscally.
“My hairline is in recession, while my waistline is in inflation. Altogether I’m in a great depression.”
Thankfully my own stocks are looking a little brighter.
Kurt Vonnegut said that true terror is waking up one morning to discover your high school class is running the country.
I might not have friends in such high places, but I did get a nice surprise in the biscuit aisle of the supermarket during the week when I bought a 50th anniversary packet of Arnott’s Tim Tams.
Just imagine – me and Tim Tams turning 50 together. What could be sweeter?
John Holton’s book Between Here and Home is available at bob boutique in Williamson Street, Bendigo.