The Year of Reckoning

Forty-nine  makes me feel anxious because I know that  fifty is  a time of endings. Every magazine article and blog that declares “50 is the new 40” denies this, but it is true. Life is finite. I am more than half-way done. There are things that I am unlikely ever to do if I do not begin them before I turn 50.

Which makes forty-nine the year of reckoning. I no longer have the childish luxury of believing that what I put off until tomorrow really will wait until another day. Every day this year, I must choose to live with the aches that follow biking and Pilates, or choose to live forever with a ponderous, cranky , ever-weakening body.  I am daunted by the knowledge that there are people I will never be, selves I will never know or explore if I don’t finally get around to it this year;  so  this is the year I must  finally publish my research, my rants,  my sonnets and epitaphs instead of just writing great letters to my friends.

Some systems believe seven is the number of discipline and perfection: this seven-squared year demands that I make a habit of offering the fullness of my every talent, skill, and gift, whether or not I am afraid.  And I am afraid.

Which leaves me , dear readers, in need your stories and company. What helps you to be bold, instead of wondering “If Only Things Had Been Different”?   What have you learned to love so well that even fear cannot hold you back?

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  • jillian  On November 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    As I get older I am finding that my curiosity makes me bold. Or less afraid, perhaps. Not sure if I am more curious than I used to be or just less afraid and therefore more inspired but what I’m curious about. Know what I mean? I am able to be bold, to “go big” as you say, when I am inspired. Creative expression makes me bold. Boldness inspires creativity. I am MUCH less afraid of talking to people, because I am so fascinated by what inspires and animates others and what makes people change their lives…

  • Barb Johnson  On November 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Boldness engenders boldness, I think. When I went back to school at 47, I decided I would do anything that scared me. Try as hard as I could? I’d never done that. Send my work out for publication? Oh, god, no. Work on something until I was truly, deeply satisfied with it? I didn’t know how to begin to make a habit of these things. It turns out, making the rule made it happen. If you’re scared, you must do it.

    Up until that time, I had spent a lot of time talking myself out of things because my understanding of how the world worked was that the shiny, fancy people got everything, and the rest of us just had to deal.

    Being 50 won’t make it happen, won’t guarantee a thing. But living intentionally will change everything because it requires you to know what your intention is. To define it. To know what you want. To keep your eye on it.

    Everything that happens changes everything that can happen, which changes what will happen, because each change has exponential effects. So this is your year of maximized exponents. When’s the big day?

  • Jen H  On November 27, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I am an artist, and remember this again and again after forgetting it again and again. The creative process, making something out of nothing, something that’s never been seen before–this is what I love so much, it feeds me. And I take the fear that comes with this joy, that it’s not good enough, that working hard and being smart is where rewards come from, that someone’s out there judging me harshly. Even though I know my deeper rewards are the creative ones, where I get soo much out of it. So I hold both the joy of this and the fear very gently, aware of both, welcoming both and letting both go.

    I’m grateful to you, Mistinguette, for holding this space for me and for yourself. I get alot out of reading about your experience.

  • Intentional50  On November 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’ve been ruminating on these comments for days. Thank you for these gifts. It’s true that creative expression makes me bold, and the things of which I am proudest involved deep creativity and service. I’m thinking about what would happen if I organized my life primarily around creative output rather than around service. The very thought freaks me out.

    And Barb nailed it. She just flat out said what has kept me from making my generative power the center of my life. I think of it as selfish and privileged. For the past 25 years I “spent a lot of time talking myself out of things because my understanding of how the world worked was that the shiny, fancy people got everything, and the rest of us just had to deal. That’s hard to swallow, and yet ineffably freeing because it’s true.

    So now, I’m considering doing what scares me most: risking the last shreds of love and acceptance for being that full self. I’m considering that, after all these decades of degrees and practice and polishing, I might finally be shiny and fancy enough.

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