I remember turning 50 with the usual fear and denial that accompany those of us who could not understand how quickly the years have sped by. Am I really turning 50 now? What happened?
And with that came a sense of urgencythere was not much time left and still so much to do. What of the Great Novel that has yet to be written? What of all the marvelous places that have yet to be seen? So much to do; not enough time. And like many others, I did nothingparalyzed.
Then the answer hit me one day like a slap in the face. Before my husband passed away, he made a batch of pickles that we had somehow left in the cellar store roomhalf forgotten. The Christmas my daughter in law became pregnant, she found the pickles and brought them upstairs for the guests. “These are delicious,” she told us. “Why have they been left unused?”
She said the word “unused” as though a tank of oil had seeped to waste. The word festered in me for weeks. What else have I left unused?
Perhaps it is this repositioning of our assets that makes the fifties such a powerful time in our lives. Think of all the unused powers that we have left forgotten, unused during the years we pursued a career, raised kids, looked after husbands and parents and scrubbed our houses clean. This power lay dormant in us, a sleeping giant, until we are somehow made ready– incubated– by time.
Now at 55, I can honestly say that I love every moment that my power is made manifest. This is the best time in my life: the body has negotiated its way through the tunnel, not necessarily into light, but into the understanding that the journey, with its necessary turmoil, never ends and that while there are never guarantees in life, this is the reason why the trip is so magical.
What we lose at 50 is far compensated by what we gain at the same time. The mind at 50 is different from what it was at 20, 30, even 40less incisive, manipulative, sharp, more intuitive, porous, connected. The mind at 50 lives in a time-warp, when all moments are simultaneous and infinite. This is a zero-point field where everything or nothing is possible, where all and nothing are essentially meaningless. And where taking a risk can mean everything that lies between aging gracefully and dying before death. At 50, you either make the Great Surrender (if you have not already done so) or you “survive” at your spiritual and emotional peril. There is a “break” at 50 whose manifestation in the physical transformation of the body is but a prelude to its more essential manifestation in the soul.
How many of us have given up “work” that challenges our creative selves in order to be financially secure, safe within the walls of respectability and social expectations? How many of us have rotted within corporate positions that promised great compensations but killed our questing spirit?
The more I think about this question, the more I realize that this zero-point field of infinite possibilities is what we lived once upon a time (as children). But we lost it by “growing up” and we can once again graduate –yes graduateto it when we become ready once more in the latter half of our lives.
It takes a porous mind to see the field not only as a metaphor or scientific curiosity or even a conjecture, but as an actual, living direction. Our purpose here in this world is to learn how to relive the paradox of the field, how to gain power by relinquishing power, how to surrender the need to control or be controlled ( a need of ego) by embracing the power that comes from a deeper, more collective and universal sourcethat which creates something out of nothing, that which sings like a sprouting seed “I am that I am,” that which (for many of us caught up with kids, work, husbands, home the first half of our lives)we can reclaim as our own once again after 50.
Copyright 2005 Mary Desaulniers