Wednesday, October 9, 2013
When I Grow Up
I discovered the Narnia books when I was 24. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were published long after I had turned 11 and 16 respectively. So I never harbored secret wishes to receive a letter from an owl or looked behind dusty coats in wardrobes for a path to a secret wonderland.
But being visited by Gandalf at 50. Now that, that is still possible.
For many years growing up, I had pegged the 20s and 30s to be a person's most productive time, the prime of their life.
When I turned 40, I realized I didn't know enough, hadn't done enough. But society assured me 40 was the new 30. So I embraced the idea, downplaying my eyesight that seemed to have worsened overnight, and the aches that were sneaking up on me. I tried new things! Took up martial arts! Wore increasingly brighter clothing! Got cataract surgery!
Now 50 is looming. And I see attempts in the media to pass 50 off as the new 30. Um. 50 is the new 30 like orange is the new black.
But, that doesn't mean I am ready to give up learning and doing new things. I do, however, admit to a certain sadness that veers towards hopelessness in my writing. I feel as if I am still swimming upstream, wondering when the steepness will level out. My arms are tired and my eyes drift often to the side of the stream that promises rest.
Then a writing friend shared this article from the New Yorker last week.
It's not that I believe I will attain the stature of a genius (just writing that sentence embarrasses me, as if I needed to even state it) but it is rather comforting to know that learning and creating can indeed go on for much longer that I had imagined, that just because I'm past the magical period of my 20s and 30s doesn't mean I should give up. I may not have the strength to paddle hard but my muscles have gained stamina from constant practice.
So, bring it, 50s! I'm ready.
Just as soon as I find my reading glasses.