Fifty Years Old And Still Don't Know Sh#*!
Today is my fiftieth birthday. I've double checked the math several times to see if somehow there was a major error along the way. But alas, I was born in 1968, which now makes my time here a whopping, unbelievable half a century!
Aging is a very strange game. What have I learned in fifty years? It would be much easier to tell you what I know I haven't yet learned.
What I Still Just Don't Get
1. I still don't accept that picking at a pimple only makes matters worse. Although, clearly, it does.
2. That just because I'm nice and decent to someone, it does not guarantee they will return the favor.
3. Even as a professional writer, I still have to take pause and think about the difference between "affect" and "effect", as well as "who" vs. "whom." I'm embarrassed by this.
4. I still long to believe that "under oath" in court has some magical power that will make people tell the truth. I've also had a hard time understanding that anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. (Sometimes less is so, so much more!)
5. I'm also still clinging to the hope that modern humans will actually read more than two paragraphs without clicking to another website.
6. I remain shocked to this day that most men are too busy thinking about what having sex with her would be like to really absorb what the woman in front of them is actually saying.
7. After driving now for 34 years, I am still completely blown away by how fast a car can hydroplane, as well as what complete idiots all drivers, (including me) can be without any provocation.
8. I still don't get why a watched pot never boils. But it doesn't. Ever.
9. I still don't understand why we have a time change twice a year.
10. I am still incapable of finding my way to anywhere without GPS, and even then I still have issues.
11. As hard as I try, I cannot wrap my mind around those who still believe the Earth is flat, that climate change is not real or that calling all news that you appose "fake" doesn't undermine democracy at its core.
12. And I still don't understand how hydrogen peroxide makes blood disappear, but it does.
That's just a few, of many, many facts of life that still shock the hell out of me.
What I Actually HAVE Learned
1. I've learned that some basic, personal traits do not lesson with time, as one would expect. For instance, I have become more sensitive to cruelty and injustice as I age. I've also become even more severely arachnophobic.
2. I've learned that I really do have to accept the things I cannot change, and that all starts with developing the wisdom to know them from the ones I can change, (which honestly seem a lot fewer and far between than I ever imagined.)
3. I've learned that forgiveness is not a gift I give the person who has wronged me, it is a gift I give myself.
4. I've learned that what we eat is just fuel for a machine and has more to do with our well being and longevity than I could have ever imagined.
5. I've learned that money really does corrupt us, on an individual level all the way up to highest levels of organization within a society.
6. I've learned that if we don't have our health, we really don't have anything.
7. I've learned that spending time, not money, is what really matters in the long run.
8. I've learned that giving unconditionally with pure, unselfish intent, is the highest high we can ever achieve.
9. I've learned that sex without true intimacy from love just sucks. It is the equivalent of eating cotton candy. It tastes really good at first, but offers zero sustenance or long-term benefits.
10. I've learned that we all have an absolute obligation to figure out what our gift is in this lifetime and share it with the world.
11. I've learned that it is only in silence and stillness that I can ever find my truest answers.
12. I've also learned that my life is no more dramatic, difficult or crazy than anyone else's. We each have our own stories containing equivalent difficulties and victories.
If I had to summarize my fifty years of learning on this planet, it would have to be this: time is the one commodity we can never have enough of, and the most valuable, precious thing we are given. Each breath is a blessing.
My time here is not even a millisecond flash in the pan. I walk amongst trees that will outlive
me. Not even love can hold us here. I've lost loved ones right and left. I myself should not even be here, looking back on all the bonehead moves I've pulled.
I've figured out that I soon won't even recall what model of iPhone I had in 2018, but I will recall the friends who gave me their time, the walks I took with my dogs in the forest, and the sweet sound of my sons' voices.
So what will my "second act" be for the next 50 years, assuming I really luck out and get that many?
A life in which I worry less about the things I cannot change and try to be more present in everything I do. Because when I do finally slide into my final destination, what's going to matter are the moments i spent with those who thrilled me, in places that inspired me, doing things that deeply moved me.
And that's about all I know.
© 2018 Elisa Fortise Christensen