A dear friend celebrated her 50th birthday recently. She reported she didn’t feel any different.
I didn’t feel any different on my 50th birthday, either.
I’m not sure any of us notice much of anything different until ‘bout halfway through a decade...or decades later.
I’ve kinda been pondercating on this all day. Had meself two glasses of wine.
I think I’m finally ready to bloviate...THE FIRST
: This one’s problematic. I can’t remember ANYTHING ‘bout the first quarter. Let’s just say it’s the emergence of a human. From embryo to self-aware, fully-functioning biological specimen in just ten short years! It’s kinda mind-blowing, if you really think about it. Researchers say that our basic personality takes root by age five. Who am I to argue? That’s kinda how it was for me. From nothingness to shy dreamer in just ten short years. If pressed, I can prolly point to the origins of ALL of my fundamental personality traits over the course of my first decade on this earth.
My parents bestowed me with EVERY possible advantage. This truly was the decade of BIRTH AND CREATION.THE SECOND
: OMIGOD! From ten to twenty! I have no words to describe the explosive transformation(s). From innocent child to cynical “near-adult
”. I elongated a couple of feet (no, not everywhere). Grew hair in places where I started with none. Learned more than I could assimilate. Went into rut (good times! good times!
). Found friends who stayed with me to shape me, teach me, challenge and sustain me. Discovered the thrills, majesty and horrific pain of Love
This decade was decisive for me and many. Some didn’t survive.THE THIRD
: The “Power
” decade. I learned the extent of mine...the extent of the power of others. This was the decade of fierce competition. The mastery and display of skills, talent and will. I fared well. The “Dreamer
” birthed in the first decade grew fortified with the energies of the young adult. I came. I saw. I conquered. I discovered my strengths. I discerned my vulnerabilities. I felt invincible...
Despite all that, I was still a fool.THE FOURTH
: This was the decade of erosion. This was the decade when my ideals became tarnished. Oh, there was money to be made, to be sure. There were titles, honors, successes (and failures). There was reality staring me in the face as I peered into the mirror each morning. There was a dissipation of energy. A growing cynicism.
I cut my feet on shards of broken dreams.THE FIFTH
: Oh! The Fifth decade. What can I say? The decade of “Realization
”. This was the decade when the body cried “No mas! No mas!
” I had burned my candle at both ends. Hell! I threw the whole damn thing into the fire! Around mid-decade, I realized I was crumbling. Both physically and mentally. I had paid lip service to my mortality but I had no idea what “mortality
” truly meant. I was once one of those long-haired, stoned freaks who “didn’t trust anyone over 30
”. I never thought I’d actually live long enough to become exactly the being I had once mocked. Life teaches us fine lessons, no? The hubris of youth gave way to humbling truths. And what I learned was this: Muscles atrophy. Dreams die. Ideals rarely prevail.
Alcohol kills brain cells.
The Fifth Decade’s a bitch. That seems to be the general consensus. Oh, yes. The Fifth Decade's a bitch...as I came only too well to know in my Sixth.THE SIXTH
: The decade of DEATH
. I’m nearing the end of this decade, so I’ve not yet achieved “true” perspective. Even so, it has been the darkest decade of my life, although I’ll freely admit I’m grateful, truly grateful, that I’ve lived THIS long. (Not everyone has...JFK, Jr., Fergie, James Dean, Jimi, Janis and Mr. Cobain...
among many, MANY others).
I’ve suffered through the deaths of my parents, my marriage, my body and soul.
But I’m coming to the end of this long, hard trail. I’ve lost everything most important to me. I’ve grieved more than I EVER thought
I would or could. I came perilously close to ending it all myself.
But I did not.
I’m simply too curious to learn what awaits just a wee bit further down the road.THE SEVENTH
: OK. OK. I’m not there...yet. But I’ve caught the scent in the air. I suspect this shall be the decade of “acceptance
I’m almost there. You’ll almost find me smiling.
I’ve come to understand LIFE
. I’ve come to understand that it’s not all “peaches and cream
”. I’ve come to know great Joy and incredible Heartache.
I’ve come to realize just how tragic and magnificent this whole, strange trip has been.
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I kinda like Taco Bell's hard shell beef tacos.
Lord help me!
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