berthahenson

Turning 50 – ME, not Sg

In Society, Writing on November 27, 2014 at 2:26 am

Old is gold, so I’m told

It’s a line which leaves me cold

Turning 50 is to me

Living half a century

Creaky knees, eyes can’t see

Flesh aligned with gravity

Turning 50 is to me

Living life more crazily

Thank you all for your best wishes

I’m getting ready some fine dishes

Hope they will erase your frown

Age will NEVER get me down!

Twenty years ago, I wrote a column about coming to terms with turning 30. I went into the third decade kicking and screaming, looking with alarm at the mirror and wondering if that’s yet another grey strand on my head. Now, my head is camouflaged, courtesy of good hair colouring and the expert snip of my hairstylist’s scissors. I take off my glasses to read, realizing that I am not just short-sighted but long-sighted as well. I wonder if I should have had Lasik surgery but I gather I’m past the age for it. It does allow me, however, the excuse to collect an array of spectacles to fit clothes for various occasions.

Half a century later and what have I done? At a gathering of ex-classmates recently, all of us celebrating our 50th birthday, I count the number of the “girls’’ who are married with children. “Doing NS’’, “now taking A levels’’, “going abroad to study’’, ‘’empty nest’’. Very mother-like statements which leave this single woman nonplussed. I suppose at age 50, you would have chalked up some achievements, both materially, mentally and, ah, biologically. Then the “girls’’ turn to me, expecting I don’t know what sort of a riot of a life accounting…

I suppose at age 50, it’s natural to take a look at your balance sheet. How far have you climbed up the corporate ladder? How are your kids doing? What’s your bank account like? Who are the friends you have collected? How’s your cholesterol? Are you still as stressed out at age 30 or 40? Have you fulfilled your childhood dream or are you still caught up in the rat race, operating day by day in this tedium that is your life?

Accounting is a fearful thing. I mean, what if you fall short? Are you going to spend the rest of your short life making up for mistakes and mis-steps of the past? Get yourself into some mid-life crisis and buy a fast car? (I can’t do that because I don’t drive) Quickly see what you haven’t got done, and go do it? I suppose some people will do that because they hear the clock ticking and want to get as much out of life as they can.

Am I different?

Some years ago, I wrote a column on the end of life. Nothing morbid. I just think that everyone must have an end goal or what they would like carved on their tombstone . I want to be remembered as a good daughter, a good sister, a good boss and a good friend. Fulfilling all four is good enough for a good life for me. Then. Now I add a fifth: A good citizen.

That probably sounds corny to people, like some national education or civics lesson. It probably doesn’t figure on most people’s radar because being a good citizen comes naturally no? Pay your taxes, don’t break the law…don’t spit, litter or defeacate in public places… But I am talking about being invested in this place we call home and getting involved in the big discussions of the day. It’s one reason I keep writing. I do it for pleasure and out of passion. I am glad that I have time for this pursuit, even though people ascribe all sorts of motives to what I do.

Frankly, I don’t care what people say. That’s the good thing about being old(er). There is no more the neediness of youth, this keeping up of appearances (just use good skin care products). You develop enough self-confidence to both stay the course and accept other points of view graciously. You know the importance of growing old gracefully. You become pretty zen.

I think I am pretty zen – and that is helped admittedly by my not being tethered by mortgages and re-payment plans. But on top of zen, the other important thing to me now that I am late in my life, is not to take things too seriously. I see people online ranting unreasonably, irrationally and rudely, casting a sour pall over everything and I wonder if they think they are smart or realize that they are just very, very unhappy people.

At the end of the day, and of your life, that’s really what we wish for no? To be happy.

Besides the five “goods’’ listed above, here’s what will make ME happy

  1. Going on a rail holiday in India, one of the few places I haven’t been to
  2. Getting myself a very, very expensive designer bag because I can surely afford it since people half my age can….
  3. Mastering the Chinese language
  4. Resurrecting Breakfast Network
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