50 is the new 40

21 02 2010

When I was 21 I had lots of invitations in the post, to nightclubs I had previously had to sneak into. This morning I had an invitation to participate in NHS Tayside’s bowel screening programme. Welcome to my 50’s.

But it’s not all bad.

Looking back I remember my 10th birthday. Lots of my schoolfriends came round to the house.  We drank diluting orange juice, probably kia ora (I’ll be your dog-remember that?) and ate salmon paste sandwiches and crisps. The girls wore hot pants and the boys matching flowered shirts and ties.  We were all excited, on the thresh-hold of being “top juniors” and then off to big school.

By 20 I was at university and a party at Genevives Night Club (I wonder if it is still there? I’ll google it later. You couldn’t do that in 1980! ). That’s as much as I remember of the night. I had moved away from home, had a wonderful fiance and the world of work and independent living beckoned.

Ten years later I had been married and divorced and had just moved to Scotland to set up my own design and advertising  agency. Once again my new decade was full of possibilities. I was making a fresh start in a new country.

When I turned 40 I was at the centre of the dot.com boom, with investors queuing up to put higher and higher valuations on my fledgling retail business. I remember having lunch at the Gleneagles Hotel on the day of my birthday and not wondering what I should order or considering the price but casually wondering if I would be able to afford to buy the hotel!

And now I am 50 and at the very start of another new venture.

Each new decade has brought fresh possibilities and fresh opportunities.

We give some dates particular significance; birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas and all of the other festivals we use to mark the passage of time. I notice this particularly in the community at Corbenic where I work each week. The year is structured around festivals, most Christian but some old rural feasts and some entirely arbitrary like the masked ball that accompanies Shrove Tuesday. The celebrations give a structure to the year and create the pattern for life in the community. There is always something to look forward to.

While these significant dates can have a purpose, give focus and structure to life both in planning forward and in looking back , we shouldn’t be controlled by them.  Lots of us make resolutions at the start of each year which are broken by the end of January. If something is worth doing it is worth doing at any time. Why wait until lent to give up chocolate? Why wait until 1st January to drink a little less? That is why we started a campaign to encourage people to Do Just One Thing. To make a small change. It needn’t be onerous. It needn’t be huge but the process of embracing change and trying new things is an important one.

So, in the words of one of the magazine columnists, I intend to age with attitude. Not just on my 50th birthday but from my 50th birthday and for each day forward.

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