Being fifty, feeling nifty?

Saturday, midmorning, and my inner juices are now flowing at a normal rate. I had a lie in, till 9 a.m. Whoo-hoo! I stretched. I splashed cold water on my face. I did a little thinking about a few things, while I nibbled on a simple sandwich for my breakfast. I sat in my pajamas. Oooh, the decadence!

My third-grader had been invited to a sleep over last night, and I dropped her off around 7 p.m., after she’d finished her swimming practice. She and her friend were all bubbles most of the week, as they excited each other about the night of fun they would add. As we drove, my daughter recounted how many sleepovers she’d had–not many, but that helped to make them special. I wasn’t especially concerned, but I wanted to be sure that when I left that I had not done so with no adult in the house. That didn’t seem to me to be  something very special, but part of what being a ‘responsible parent’ was all about. I saw my daughter’s friend roll her eyes as I walked in, saying I wanted to check they were not going to be home alone. I joked with the babysitter as she told me the girls were going to head to Mickey D’s. Shock. Horror. I wanted to take my daughter home immediately :-). I teased her that I should have brought some alfalfa sandwiches to make sure that her delicate diet was not going to topple over. She helped push me out the door and ran off to play.

Yesterday, before I had done that schlepping, while on my way from the golf course, I saw (what looked like) a middle-aged woman, doing some yoga stretches in her front yard. That’s what the arrival of a really warm day does to you, I thought. Younger neighbours, I saw, were jogging on the path that ran through her neighbourhood. Go, girl! We’ve learned that less is more. Being older has some benefits. Wisdom, is one of them.

I’d spent three hours practising my golf swing then playing nine holes with a Spanish friend, also in his fifties and retired–his wife had suggested he needed to improve his English, so he’s now enrolled in classes till around 11 a.m. each morning. We were, thus, reduced to playing golf at a near sprint as we squeezed our play into the two hours we had before having to make our respective school pick-up runs. I could feel the ache in my legs from walking–the course is hilly–and was sweaty–the temperature had risen to around 60 F. My friend apologized that he had to make the putt and run. I nodded in understanding, as I took loaded my clubs into my car. I was tired. I had in my head visions of a slow warm-down in the exercise room and a sauna: not as random as you may think, because these were available in a house that was being considered as a new home.

My wife had forwarded to me during the week details of a weekly golf tournament for men over 50: the start times were all between 8:30 and 9 a.m. No doubt, enough participants are available to make these jaunts work. I’d seen them, cruising in their carts, hitting balls from the forward tees, laughing and drinking beer and swapping money at each hole. What a life! 

I just hung up the phone after speaking to the dad where my daughter’s had her night out–he’s a lawyer, new to the art of being a stay-at-home. I explained to him, while we were making arrangements for pick-up, that today is my day for having nothing much on my agenda: “Welcome to the world of being retired,” I told him. He replied that he was still trying to figure that out. I saw a new career opening ahead.

I am not in the having-it-all mould anymore–honestly, I can’t recall when I last tried it. In the same way that you cannot focus well on hitting your driver while you are thinking about how to sink the putt, I’m happy focusing on how to chew the small mouthful of food on my fork, rather than the whole plate.

I joked yesterday with my daughter about how life would be if we were born like adults and became like children as we aged, needing to be taken care of by those stronger and more able than we are. Not as weird as I first thought. Life is not meant to speed up as you age. I do not believe that 50 is the new 30, let alone the new 40. It’s the fifties. Like it or lump it! I’m fifty and I know it!


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
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