This week I celebrated turning 54. When my husband toasted me at dinner and I heard him say my age aloud, the number baffled me. What do these two digits mean? I used to know what numbers like 16, 21, and even 30 meant. But somewhere along the way, I stopped being able to distinguish age. And now sometimes my years feel as though they’re no longer ascending, but somehow descending—as if rolling down and “over the hill.”
This idiom and others like “The bloom is off the rose” treat age as an anathema. Our very language begins to betray and condescend to us.
After stepping out of the restaurant on my birthday, staring at a very level horizon before me, I thought about all that I’ve held in my gaze for more than five decades. These same eyes saw my father still alive as a young man, picking me up to ride on his shoulders. I watched my twenty-something mother shape a pie crust on the kitchen counter. These eyes studied equations on the blackboard of a high school math class. They’ve observed countless sunsets and fewer sunrises. They’ve stared down ski mountains and up at military jets called to duty after 9-11. I’ve beheld two babies at my breast and then at their college dorms waving goodbye to me. My eyes burned to memory an image of my husband. He smiles at me in a charcoal suit as I walk down the aisle.
These eyes have been 10 years old and 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 and now 54. Age is always changing. And though I change and grow with time too, something essential about me remains the same.
Here’s what I have to say at age 54: Resist language that attempts to define you by a number. Resist the biased idioms of a culture that values novelty over vitality. In midlife, you are more vital to the friends and family around you, and to the communities, careers, and vocations that rely on your lifeforce, contributions, and wisdom.
A toast. . .
I’m raising a glass to us. I created greencallings.com to be a place where midlife women bloom. Thanks for blooming with me.
To celebrate my birthday, I’m offering 15% off the price of our Wisdom Circle for Midlife Women–starting in the last week of September. We still have some places if you’re interested in joining us. Learn more about the circle here. (Discount in checkout.)