10 Things That Happen in Your 50s

  1. You wake up at the same time every morning no matter what time you went to bed and no matter what you have planned for the day. 
  2. Your skin loses its elasticity. Under your chin, above and around your eyes, the creases of your elbows, the sides around your stomach, your butt, your ankles.
  3. You care more about some things, and care less about others. 
  4. Your happiness increases, or your bitterness does. 
  5. You have to find this middle ground regarding clothes. You don’t want to get stuck wearing what you wore when you were in your 20s, but wearing what 20-year-olds wear now makes you look like you’re trying too hard. The same thing applies to how you cut your hair. 
  6. You spend more time in doctors’ offices. 
  7. You begin to look at material processions differently. 
  8. You have to form new relationships with your adult children if you have them. 
  9. You lose track of how many mid-life crisises you’ve had,  and you realize the words “mid-life” no longer apply. 
  10. You write about being in your 50s. 

Sometimes the Clothes Do Not Make the Man

I’ve dressed a step above business casual for work every day this week, prompting comments from colleagues. I heard, “Dapper!” more than once, to which I replied, “Thank you.” People also asked me, “Why are you so dressed up?” I answered without hesitation, “Job interview,” and I laughed, letting them know there was no job interview.

The fact is, I dressed up primarily to feel a sense of control. Various aspects of my life are out of my control right now. Deliberately choosing what to wear gives me a sense of power over the chaos.

Frank commented one day, “I can’t figure out the look you’re going for.” He said it early in the morning, a time when neither of us are at our best. I interpreted his words as being critical whether they were meant to be or not. Upon reflection, I’m as confused about my choices as he was: cowboy boots, a suit, a bow tie, a fedora, an overcoat that’s over twenty-five years old, the beard, the hair in a ponytail, the bright blue glasses. Flair might cover it. Eclectic may come closer. Bat-shit crazy may hit the nail on the head.

Setting all that aside, the ability to choose is what motivated my selections. Even though the combination seems chaotic, my willingness to make the choice is an expression of calm, of peace, of freedom desired. Or maybe my dress, my hair, my beard are reflections of the chaos I’m feeling inside. To stifle this self-expression would make it harder to breathe, or make breathing feel less important.

You may see dapper, dressed up, flamboyancy, or crazy, on a face lit up with a smile. I feel adrift, helpless, and sad. Note I did not say hopeless; I am determined not to stay here for long.

Sing it, George:

Well it looks like the road to heaven
But it feels like the road to hell
When I knew which side my bread was buttered
I took the knife as well
Posing for another picture
Everybody’s got to sell
But when you shake your ass
They notice fast
And some mistakes were built to last

That’s what you get

I say that’s what you get

That’s what you get for changing your mind

And after all this time
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes
Do not make the man

— Freedom 90, George Michael

Sunday Funday

Music City Sisters

A week ago, a handful of Sister hit the town for Sunday Funday, a descriptor that, for the younger bar crowd means, “Let’s stretch this weekend out and keep the party going!” For this old man Sister it means, “You’re an idiot. You have to work tomorrow and you will be miserable until at least 1:00 in the afternoon. Plus, this is going to wreak havoc on your morning routine. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get up in time for your workout, and even if you try to honor that commitment, you’re going to be late for work.”

“But it will be fun!” said my inner voice, and I listened. The younger definition of Sunday Funday won, and it was fun. How could it not have been? My Sisters are amazing people. They bring laughter, joy, and purpose to my life, and I am thankful for every moment spent with them in ministry to the community. However, old man Sister knew what she was talking about, because my Monday was miserable.

There are at least a couple of ways I can maximize the fun and minimize the misery. I don’t have to stay out too late, and I don’t have to drink too much. How responsible of me that these limits would present themselves as options. In this, my fiftieth year, maybe I’m finally turning into an adult.

But what’s the fun in that?