The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

The Transition to 50

I've heard it said that 50 is the new 40 these days. Then again, I've also heard it being said that 60 is the new 40. 40 must obviously be the old 40 and can now be completely disregarded.

However for me there might be some truth in it, in so far as I don't remember ever being so concerned about reaching a particular age before now.

40 really didn't bother me - it just felt like a smooth continuation rather than any kind of transition.

But 50?

50 has been looming.

50 has felt a bit too scary.

50 feels like it's come way too early - by at least 10 or 20 years.

Although it hasn't overly helped that the majority of people I know are already over 50 and so have no sympathy for me at all.

But this is the first time I've ever been worried about my own ageing process. Up until now, I've always seen birthdays as a celebration of life - a mark that I've survived another year whatever the gods have thrown at me.

Perhaps it's the strong whiff of mortality. The full realisation I definitely have less time left in front of me than I've already experienced. A sense of regret at things I haven't achieved that I thought I would have by this age. Fear of the idea that there are things I never will.

There's a flavour to the intensity that reminds me of how I felt in the time following the death of my mother, nearly 14 years ago. An increased urgency to the sense I need to find, or create, more meaning to my life.

And therein lies the the problem and the solution.

I've been coming at this with a victim mentality - turning 50 is something that is being forced on me whether I want it or not, and that feels brutal and unfair.

So the answer is to rewrite the narrative; retake control.

I need to embrace it, make it mine, and use that intensity to propel myself forward to make change happen, rather than drift aimlessly towards the grave.

On Friday I'm having a celebration with friends, food and music.

My 50s will be my best decade yet.

Me at 50 - taken this morning


Pat said...

"I need to embrace it, make it mine, and use that intensity to propel myself forward to make change happen, rather than drift aimlessly towards the grave."

Just what do you think you have been doing these last few years - with an increasing verve?


savannah said...

That's it exactly! Make whatever time you have the absolute best because all we can do is keep moving forward, sugar, and besides, time is going to pass anyway no matter what! so we might as well keep on keepin' on! ;) *big hugs* xoxoxo

Joan Lennon said...

I LOVED my 50s! 60s are pretty damn fine too, but that's another story. Er, decade. Any way, Happy Birthday!

Niki said...

Loved that Kim!
Think and sure you've achieved considerably more than me in your 50 years
But gonna try and embrace like you say...not keeping looking at the negatives and what ifs!.
But look forward aghhhhh.
I've another 10 weeks & 5 days to cheer my self up and think positive.....
As it's winter thou I might just hibernate in the new year, and wake up in spring, already 50🙃

debra said...

Wishing you love and light, laughter, joy, health, and a peaceful heart, my friend.

Virginia said...

This is exactly how I felt about 40 (Goodness knows what 50 will do to me) - perhaps because of the reproductive imperative that we women are subject to. The years since have been amongst the most productive I've had. Perhaps because the turning of the decade had a such grip on me, ever since I've done more exploring and playing than I have since I was a child. Hurrah to growing older and recognising the joys of possibility.

I look forward to reading your adventures and discoveries, Vx

Anonymous said...

This sums it all up Kim, you're a few months ahead of me and this is just what I am feeling. I knew you'd have a brill photo too- thanks! Maybe it wont be as bad when it comes!
Enjoy your 6th decade! Keep fit and happy. You have a lot to celebrate.

hope said...

I'm 6 months older than my best friend: when I turned 50 I sent her an e-mail that read,"Come on in, the water's fine!" She said that made it seem less dramatic.

I don't know why 50 didn't bother me too much. I think it may have been because I'd always believed 35 was the perfect age and that I'd have children by then..or never. We couldn't have kids, so 35 was a bit of a let down for about a month, then life goes on.

You are filled with exciting ideas and that talent of photographic'll be fine and probably even enjoy it. :) Happy Birthday again!

Pat said...

Let other people worry about the numbers - which is all age is. What matter is what is in your head and your heart. You'll be fine.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - you might be right. After several years of ME/CFS, since I moved on from the worst of it, I've been keen to try and make up for the lost years, but to me it feels like a slow process.

Savannah - it's true - in 10 years I will be 60, whatever I do (assuming I make it that far) :)

Joan - most people I've spoken to who have already crossed that age line say their 50s were better. :)

Niki - don't sleep through it - have a big party! I had a celebration on Friday - hired a village hall and invited a few dozen friends - it was well worth doing :)

Debra - many thanks :)

V - I have to say I preferred my 40s to my 30s - but then I preferred my 302 to my 20s, my 20s to my teens, and my teens to my infancy. Can't remember how good the womb was though... :)

Jennie - Now I'm this side of it, of course it feels much better. I would definitely recommend having a party of some kind though - it helps with coming to terms with it :)

Hope - Different people I know had problems with different ages - 40, 30, 60 - and some, none at all. :)

Pat - I always appreciate your wisdom :) x

Hindsfeet said...

Wishing you happy, my friend.....You already have "meaningful"....I think, more times than you know, you've been the George Bailey in our Bedford Falls......

You once advised me to treat 'now' like a new house I was moving into....that i can't change the past but I can move into it as is and make of it what I would..... I'm sure that was a dreadfully inarticulate retelling of your words, but hopefully you'll remember, and perhaps they'll boomerang beautifully back to you......

Yours and my birthdays are always next door neighbors; I turned 44 on 10/13..... I have had this year many of the same concerns, thoughts, fears which you expressed here ....poignantly this year particularly for some reason........

I wish us both a Meaning-Full life, Kim..... let's keep cheering each other on..... I heard this quote tonight in a favorite movie of mine I am watching at this moment, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", and it caught my ear..... I will pass it on to you too...with a full heart and a wish for a very happy new year....

"Like Darwin's finches we are slowly adapting to our environment, and when one does adapt, my God, the riches that are available!! There is no past that one can bring back by longing for it, only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws."

Best and Warmest,
Liz ~*

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Liz, they are very much appreciated and do resonate deeply. Love that quote. And I had forgotten about the new house analogy, but it all comes flooding back and I see the relevance - thank you for reflecting it back to me :)

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