I just rediscovered this journal entry I wrote last year at this time – I was facing 50 and trying to put my thoughts into some sensible form. I know this post isn’t so much about New Mexico, but given that I’m a New Mexico product, maybe it will serve. I guess I’m posting it to remind myself what’s important. Maybe it will resonate with someone else out there as well.
November 20, 2010: Its two weeks until my 50th birthday. Damn. Two weeks. I’ve been extremely optimistic about the prospect of turning 50 – I don’t believe in bemoaning advancing age. It’s a cliché, but true, that turning 50 is certainly better than the alternative.
And I’m pretty sure my 50’s will be good to me. All the other decades have been, although I’d imagine some of the spectators to this life of mine would argue that some major portion of the 20’s and 30 (okay, and my 40’s) were a bit of train wreck. Those are the folks that are counting the marriages (three in three decades), the moves (can’t count ’em, don’t want to. Suffice it to say I was all over New Mexico and then in West Texas and then in Kansas and even in North Carolina for a while. . .), the misguided choices in boyfriends, the missteps.
I count other stuff, because in the end, I think that’s what we’re made of anyway. Sure, the missteps shape us, but they don’t define us. I count my two amazing kids and their very resilient, funny, interested and interesting selves. I count my friends – the ones I’ve kept, the ones I’ve lost, the ones that are better than ever. Everyone should get to be this old with friends this good.
I count the guy in my life now. Somehow at a stage in my life when I had decided I didn’t really ever need to be involved with a man again, one showed up when I least expected him, and he pleasantly surprises me every day with his humor and good nature and care for me.
I count my parents, who stayed right there with me through all the missteps, standing steadfastly (it’s a hell of a word, but steadfastly is the one that comes to mind immediately when I think about my mom and dad) on my side, not interfering but taking the call when I said things like “I’ve got all my stuff in a U-Haul and I’m on I-40 headed west.” If you want to know how to parent, these are the people to study. They’re not silly and they’re not overbearing – instead they are clearly the epitome of unconditional love. If I’ve treated my children well, it’s because they were my example.
I count the books I’ve read, which are actually countless. I count the days I’ve spent in the front bow of someone’s boat, speeding down the lake toward Horseshoe Bend. I count the evenings I’ve spent on my deck, or someone else’s, or standing around a fire, with a cold beer in my hand and a funny story being told, good food in the kitchen and the prospect of a couple of hours of conversation and laughter with friends.
Here’s what’s nice about being this age. Finally I know what counts. Finally I get that missteps are just something else to be counted and savored. Finally I know that judging anything, myself especially, only takes away from the time I have left to continue to recreate my life every day.