Welcome to 50!

Turning 50 is a monumental event. I always imagined that at half a century I would be a wise, strong, balanced, kind, confident and powerful woman who had it all figured out.

As it turns out - I'm the same person I've always been. Getting to 50 is the same as getting to any age of your life. Just trying to be the best person you can be.

Cheers! G

Monday, August 27, 2012

New York Times: Significance of becoming 50

The Significance of Becoming 50 from the NYT

When I was in my 30's, a 50-year-old friend told me that you don't know anything until you are 50. I reach 50, and what does he tell me? ''You really don't know anything until you are 60.'' 
At 50, time is on fast-forward. A friend calls from London; we realize we have not spoken for a year. It seems like last week. 
Our culture is intent on taking the lines out of people's faces - surgically, with costly creams and with fear and trembling - when, in fact, the opposite should be the case. As artists know, if there is anything behind a face, that face improves with age. Lines show distinction and character: They show that one has lived, that one may know something.
At 20 and 30, we are like travelers in a foreign country, reading the guide book to learn how to behave, to learn when the post office is open. Trivia looms important; critical issues fade into a pastel background, unrecognized. 
Although both women and men suffer from the Cult of Youth, it is women who have adopted ''looking younger'' as the organizing principle of life. We women desperately mutilate ourselves: We bob our noses, pin back our ears, reshape our jaws, sandpaper our skin, enlarge or reduce our breasts, smooth out our necks, lift our faces and fannies and suction the flesh from our thighs. 
The irony is that the more we fight age, the more it shows. Paint on a 50-year-old face brings to mind a Gilbert and Sullivan comic figure. Smooth the cheeks, and suddenly the ear lobes and hands look out of place. Do we run around in October, painting the gold leaves green? 
It is crucial to be healthy, for pain wipes out the possibility for pleasure and severe pain removes the possibility of turning to the world outside the body. So we must establish the idea that it is important to look well, not to look young. It is no more a compliment to say you don't look your age than to say you don't look Jewish or you don't look like an American. 
Athletes decline with age, but doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors and musicians can only improve. Why would I be pleased to have the brains of a 35-year-old lawyer - to have lost 15 years of legal wisdom? 
The feminist movement - the glorious perception that women can be valued for our brains and not just for our faces - makes it possible for a woman to become 50 and not to grieve. It has enabled some lucky women of my generation to do meaningful work. At 50, one knows what was vague at 30: You will not have time to do everything, so you must do what is important. 
Although wide experience can be interesting, it is deep experience that gives the most pleasure and satisfaction. Seeking adventures in a wide variety of matters avoids the real issue - that of becoming highly skilled at a few. 
At 50, you know that if everything did not turn out as you had planned, it is not the fault of your parents. There are market forces at work. 
At 50, one realizes that many people will go to any extreme to avoid significant intellectual work. They lapse into the occult, search out dangerous and uncomfortable sports, turn to the soap opera of personal battles.

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