Posted by: drrozkaplan | October 8, 2010

Old?

Yesterday I turned 50.  I have lived 5 decades, half a century.  Half a century!  Okay, I know that those of you who are over 50 are saying ‘been there, done that, get over yourself’…and no, I don’t really think that 50 is that old.  In fact, I still feel very young in most ways, and it’s hard to believe I’ve hit this milestone.

I think back in time- I’ve lived through a lot of interesting history:  the Vietnam war, landing on the moon, school integration, Woodstock, the hippie era, the ‘power’ eighties, the falling of the Berlin Wall, the end of the USSR, 9/11, and a million other events I can’t list.  Technology has changed so much in my lifetime:  remember LP’s on the record player and programming the computer in Basic and Fortran on the Main Frame computer, which occupied an entire building on campus?  Tonight I’m listening to itunes and typing on my laptop.

People said to me yesterday, “you don’t look 50.”  I know it was meant as a compliment.  But what does 50 look like?  And why would it be bad to look 50?  Is 50 wrinkled and fat and half-bald or something?  This society values youth to an extreme: looking young, being thin to the point of not even looking like a grownup, covering up all signs of aging.  High-fashion clothing is shown modeled by girls who are 16 or 17 years old, even though the women who can afford such clothing are generally much older.   Cosmetic procedures like Botox and Restylane injections and laser skin resurfacing are becoming more and more commonplace.  I’m all for looking healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, taking care of my skin, and dressing nicely, but I’m also not trying to pretend that the clock is turning backwards.  The only alternative to getting older is death.  I choose getting older, if I’m given the choice.

The milestone of 50 does make me pause and take stock, though.  And when I do, I must say that I am very lucky.  And I am grateful.  I haven’t had it all easy, but I have had a lot of good.  And I have a lot of good in my life now.  When I blew out my candles, there was one thing I wished for.  I’m not superstitious, so I can tell you what it was.  I wished for serenity.  Despite the fact that I have all this good in my world, I recognize that I am still very reactive to the daily ups and downs of life, and that I uselessly stress and worry over all kinds of things.  It’s not that I haven’t worked on this (therapy, meditation, yoga, you name it…), but I seem to still be stuck.  I’ve taken to saying the Serenity Prayer frequently.  It seems to be helping a little.  So I guess this is one of the things I will continue working on for the next half century of my life.

I don’t feel physically old, at least not yet.  A lot of people tell me they hit 50, and parts start to go.  I do have a shoulder injury, but it’s actually getting better.  I don’t have the energy I had at 25, but most days, I still have a lot.  Will this physical degeneration creep up slowly, or will it happen all at once?  Strangely, this is not one of the things I’m really worried about.  Maybe I should be?  No, don’t get me started.

I think the best thing I can do about turning 50 is just to celebrate it.  Make the most of it.  I’m alive and kicking, and I guess I don’t look too old and decrepit yet.  I think I’m going to make the whole month my birthday month and celebrate it.  Hell, what’s one month out of a half a century?

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Responses

  1. Happy Birthday Dr. Kaplan! Always remember, it’s not the number of years in your life, but the amount of life in your years… And it sounds like you’ve crammed a lot of living in your years… You’re 50 years young!

    • thanks

  2. Hi Roz – Not old, just incredibly experienced. I was able to locate you after having dinner with Elyse Seidner Joseph earlier this week (following a gap of many years) — she told me your married name.

    Your blog is so interesting. The years have clearly been good and productive ones.

    I tried leaving a comment yesterday but not sure I succeeded (never posted to anyone’s blog before).

    Would love to hear from you — try me at the email address above.

    Missy


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