Reflections on Feeling Nifty at Fifty
by Raheel Raza
This Millennium affected people in so many different ways. Many were unduly tense, while some of us had better things to reflect upon. Me, for example - I was more hyped about the fact that I would turn a milestone at the beginning of the new Millennium, than the event itself. I've just turned 50, so obviously, completing half a century without too many wrinkles means much more to me than a mere thousand years! I got one birthday card that reads "turning 50 is not old if you're a tree!". Now here are people who mistakenly think 50 is old and I believe life begins at 50. It's all in the attitude and
frame of mind.
My family had planned for this colossal event in my life since last year when they gave me a fabulous surprise birthday party with all the works. Idea was to do it all before the "F" word hits home. This year they prepared me in advance. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the age thing (they said this with true political correctness and a straight face) they were keeping a low profile. So there would be no cake or major celebrations for my birthday, since I might be awkward when 50 candles don't fit on a small cake! I went along with them, feeling too foolish to say that I'd be thrilled to hold the extra candles or stick them into my ears and that this is the one milestone I want to definitely record. At the risk of letting them think that I'm turning shifty at fifty, I did announce that I'm proud to be half a century old and don't care who knows about it.
The morning of my birthday, I woke up early to get the newspaper and read what happens on the day of my birth. I was shocked when I saw the front yard full of critters - flamingos, sheep, penguins in black ties, cows and even a pig! There were dozens of balloons but the icing on this cake was the huge placard out front that read, ISN'T IT NIFTY TO BE FIFTY? I figure now that the entire neighborhood, school kids walking by and total strangers know the truth, I may as well share it with the rest of the world. Incidentally, would anyone like a ready-made family?
Fact is - I'm thrilled to be fifty. Not so some of my friends who think that my confession ages them. Overall I think I've mellowed well, rather like classy, aged, ripened cheese (without the odor!) I've never felt healthier than I am now...in my forties, I had developed diabetes and arthritis - both of which I've licked in the past year. I'm on no medication and can work an 18-hour day without complaining.
Caring friends keep reminding me that the fifties bring menopausal worries. "What menopause" says moi, "I'm the toughie who never had morning sickness or labor pains, so if and when the hot flashes come, I'll deal with them".
As a woman I feel truly fulfilled. I've been a much loved daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and I look forward to becoming a grandmother (not too soon boys). My sister called to wish me and both of us bawled (we women tend to do this regardless of age). I told her I'm sniffling only because I'm happy; she said she was feeling emotional and reminded me that our father did not live to be fifty, while our mother died before she was 55. That thought sobered me for a while and gave me a chance to thank God that
I'm alive and well.
One of the nicest things about turning the half century is that I don't have to please others anymore i.e. life is no longer a popularity contest. I can be my usual foot-in-mouth self without losing sleep about being diplomatic; honesty means so much more than mere political correctness. It doesn't matter if everyone doesn't like me - I've learned to like myself and be at peace with what I do. With age, comes a wonderful sense of priority, of knowing who and what is the most important ingredient in our lives. Once we shake off the excess baggage, what is left is pure delight.
I've also learnt some valuable lessons in life which I've been wanting to share. But when you're under fifty and speak wisdom, you're usually considered precocious; after fifty however, your silly meanderings are considered pearls of wisdom. For example, not having to live up to others values, is another great asset to turning fifty. I've learnt that someone will always have something better or more than I have, so I'm content. An inner feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from not wrestling to look younger, thinner or smarter is a great virtue to getting older. I'm so happy with myself as I am that I wish I could have aged earlier.
For me at age fifty, this Millennium is the dawn of discovery, of finding out what life holds for me, of chasing my dreams, enjoying genuine family and friends, plus thousands of days of superb memories to carry over the next fifty years. I have no regrets and am totally in awe of life, love and laughter. La Chiem - to life.