The Big 5-0

Another of life’s milestones occurred this week: I turned 50. That’s five decades or exactly one half a century to put it in more eye-opening terms.  It’s a big milestone for me because my mother lost her battle with breast cancer at the tender age of 49, and even though I live a much healthier life than she did I still wondered how much genetics play a role in longevity.  Fifty always seemed like some sort of magic number to me; surely if I could manage to live longer than my mother I would be home free in some way.

A lot of my friends have turned that magic number as well and it’s interesting to see the variety of approaches to being plunked firmly in the midst of middle age. Some friends have embarked on assorted varieties of mid-life crisis behavior while other have just been profoundly depressed. I don’t plan to do any of those things although I will confess to having a newly found fascination with old people who can still get out of their own way.

The mantra I am adopting for the second half of my life is something I will call the “Ethel Jordan Principle”. Ethel is a 99 year old dynamo who is a friend of the Professor’s. We stop in to visit her from time to time and she is truly amazing; she still lives in her own house, has a huge vegetable garden, and while her son has finally taken her car keys away she is as sharp as a proverbial tack.  Ken asked her one time what her secret was to such robust longevity and she replied, “I never gave any thought to getting older…I just kept busy.”

I firmly believe that it really is as simple as that. Keep busy. Don’t waste time internalizing every ache and pain; living an active and joy filled life really is mind over matter.

Here’s to another fifty years.


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