50 trips around the sun.
Today marks 5 decades that I have been traveling around the sun. (the photo is me at 9).
After 50 years, I finally feel like I might be beginning to understand who I am, and what I want. At least a little. I hope to never stop learning so what I think I know today might be very different after the next ten years or twenty. But it’s a start.
It hit me pretty hard this morning that more of my life has already gone by than is ahead of me. That’s a pretty tough thing to grapple with, when you feel like you have a lot left to do and still have restrictions on your life (like a job for instance) that make some things impossible to change. I’m struggling with that a bit, and I think it is going to color brightly the decisions I make, the way I choose to spend my time and who I choose to spend it with from here on out – however long that time is.
One of the many things that I feel swelling inside of me is that I’m done holding my tongue. Not that I was ever afraid of speaking my mind… but I have found my grown up voice. There is some pretty damn horrific stuff happening at this point in our history and it needs to be addressed. If say something that offends you, that was probably the point. It probably means I think you are wrong. I was a child of the 70s when kids were told to speak when spoken to and girls were supposed to be sweet and pretty and quiet. I mostly adhered to that then… but I am certainly not doing so now. That said, if you are a racist, homophobic or a religious zealot – I will jump at the chance to verbally eviscerate you and will feel no remorse in doing so.
I feel I have the right to speak my mind. I’ve been through a LOT of shit in 50 years. More than I would wish on anyone. I’m not going to give the bad experiences the light of day today, so I am won't catalog them here, but just know… I’ve been through 40 miles of bad road and each of the bumps have changed me a little bit. In good ways and In bad ways. I own that I am the result of a weird mix of genes and magic and my experiences.
I didn’t ask for the bad experiences. They were not my fault. But I continually work to move through and past them. Even at this age, I still have to consciously choose to not allow certain experiences from my younger years to hold me back from being the best person I can be. They will not win. Eventually I feel that I will conquer them.
My life has not been one sided though - I’ve also had some amazing experiences and some downright fantastic luck. The universe tries to balance these things out and its done a pretty good job in so far for me.
Some things I have learned by 50.
- In general, High school doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. If its tough for you, focus on you. Forget about “them”. They aren’t worth it. You are. If you are lucky you may have a friend or two that survives the decades afterwards. But that time you spilled your juice at lunch, or got your period in the middle of gym class, or were not chosen for the lead in the play… none of it matters. Do not let a bunch of immature jerks get you down. You will rise above it all and none of it will mean a thing when you are fully formed. Seriously. I do not lie.
- Seek out teachers or mentors or therapists who will help you find yourself despite the other stuff that society piles on and tries to smother you with.
- Own your individuality. Trying to “fit in” is for the weak.
- Be strong, be yourself. Fly your freak flag… or if “freak” isn’t your thing, fly your accountant flag. I dunno. No matter who you are – be you. Don’t try to be someone else, for any reason – especially if it has to do with impressing someone.
- If you have someone in your life who doesn’t appreciate who you are and love you without feeling the need to “change” you… move on. Yeah… that guy. MOVE ON.
- There are a lot of shitty people in the world. Don’t waste your time on them. (see above)
- If you can sing, Sing. Share your gift. If you can’t sing… sing anyway… in the shower or whatever…if it makes you happy. But don’t use auto-tune. Ever.
- If you are an artist, make art. It’s the most important thing you can do for yourself, and for the world.
- Find more time to make art. Even if means not cooking dinner or watching tv with the family. Sometimes making art has to come first. It may seem selfish, but you show me an artist unable to find time to make art and I’ll show you a person in need of serious antidepressants.
- 300 years from now, no one is going to give two shits about your high score in candy crush. There is very little time given to each of us. Don’t waste it on bullshit meant to dull your senses and monopolize your time.
- Only the very lucky with live life without debt. Don’t be stupid with access to credit, but don’t let owing keep you up at night. There are far worse things in life than owing a few bucks.
- Things are things. If possessing something will make you happy, buy it. But for the love of all that is sacred… don’t lose friends or fight with family over “things”.
- The other species we share this planet with are just as important as we are. And we need them. All of them. Its not a beauty contest for the furry and cute.
- I was beautiful when I was 16. (yawn). EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL AT 16. When you experience enough and have enough years behind you to sing the blues un-ironically and still stay beautiful… I’ll pay attention.
- I wear what I like. For the author of those scintillating "What women should wear after 50" lists...You can take your opinion and shove it.
- I am proud of my ability to swear a blue-streak like a pirate, and will continue to do so until my last breath. Should I ever be blessed with grandchildren... they will learn very colorful language.
- No amount of CoverGirl will ever help you pretty up an ugly interior.
- Nothing good ever comes from jealousy.
- All people deserve to be loved and love who they choose. Its not your business, you don’t need to understand it. Move along.
- Be kind. The world needs more kind people, there are very few. I am not always one of them but I am trying.
- Do not ever ask anyone if they are pregnant unless you see the baby crowning.
- Do not ever pass judgement on a mother for bottle feeding. EVER. You do not know the circumstances and you do not live in her skin.
- If you choose to raise a child, raise them to be proud of themselves, raise them to be kind and let them be whoever they are. Your preferences mean nothing in this situation.
- You are responsible for you. It’s all on you bucko… Step up and protect yourself in any way that you need to. And teach your kids that too.
- You will never find someone perfect for you. Everyone has flaws. No one will ever live up to some juvenile fairy tale expectation of perfection, especially, and including yourself. Get over it. Accept people for who they are, warts and all and love them for being imperfect.
- If you do happen to be in search of a mate – find someone who you enjoy spending time with, who shares your passions and has similar values. Trying to make it work with someone who just doesn’t get you, is not worth it. (do you see a theme here?)
- People who do love you are a rare and precious gift, treat them as such. I know that I am not always deserving of the amazing love that people give me… I try to let them know that I appreciate it.
- Call your parents. I know. I know. Just do it.
- Listen to your grandparents. I mean this. Ask questions and listen intently. When they are gone you will wish you asked 1000 more questions and had another million years to sit by their side.
- Don’t be a dick. Really. This shouldn’t have to be said. But I watch the news… so… apparently the message isn’t getting through.
- Sarcasm is highly under-rated and often mis-understood. Use more of it. Confuse the bastards. There is almost nothing more attractive then well-timed wit.
- ·The only one who will ever love you unconditionally, through thick and thin, through good and bad and will never waver or get mad at you, is a dog.