I recently celebrated my 50th birthday. It was a wonderful day with family, friends, good weather, good food, lots of laughter, reminiscing and loads of love.
I was a little bit off-balance before the birthday, because for some reason 50 seemed to me the beginning of the end. But then I have wonderful friends that I can discuss these things with, and they helped me to get perspective.
My mother died at the age of 53 in very sad circumstances. I have made different choices, and will not pass on in the same manner or at the same age. My dad retired at the age of 60 and now, at 73, is a very old man who has difficulty moving around. Again, I have made different choices and am in the middle of a career change – probably not my last one either.
I understand that time is a man-made concept. As a society we chose to attach value to the age of 50. A thousand years ago only the most fortune geriatrics reached that age. Today people aged 50 are physically attractive and full of life. So what is so special about being 50?
I chose to look at this birthday from a different angle. I have had an incredible life so far – enough to write a book about, and still I feel as if my life has just started. I am looking forward to a few massive changes over the next few months, and I count my blessings every day. My to-do list is as long as my arm.
I recently read of a man who has his life planned out up to the age of 120 years. Whether he becomes 120 years old, is not relevant. What is important is that right up to the moment when he leaves this earth, he will have a purpose, and he will live that purpose.
Have you ever heard of the axilotl? You pronounce it "a-chi-ho-tel". It is a small animal that looks like a salamander. It is pale white – you can see right through it. It has gills and normally lives under water. When the water dries up, the gills close and the axilotl breathes and lives on land like a salamander. When there is water again, the axilotl grows gills again. Sometimes it loses a leg, and then it simply grows another one. Why is the axilotl so adaptable? Because no-one ever taught it that growing gills for breathing underwater and having lungs for living on land and growing a new leg when required is impossible.
I know that what we think becomes, and I would like to collect stories about people who did remarkable things after the age if 50 – things that ordinary people can do when they become aware that only their own fears and the obstacles they created them hold them back.
These stories could be about famous people, but I am sure there are many untold stories about ordinary people who have done extra things. For example, I have read about the 80+ lady who did her first ever tandem parachute jump, and there was another lady in her 70's that climbed Mount Everest recently. There was also the man who retired, withheld away, then got a grip on himself and started a very successful business and became young again. And yesterday I heard of a woman who published a best-seller debut novel at the age of 85.
In short, my quest is to look for the achievements of people over 50 who did the unexpected simply because they could, and who succeeded. May God bless you like He blesses me every day.