I turned 50
I always thought it would be a big deal when I turned 50 – that balloons would fall out of the sky and someone would have composed and thus began to play, as the balloons were falling, a theme song for my life. Neither one of these things happened. As a matter of fact, it was a very laid back birthday just the right amount of “hooRAY!” .
It seems that no matter what age I arrive at, I am still me – I am still who I was last year, only better. And by better, I mean wiser. For wisdom does come with age and the opposite of aging is not attractive, not something I aspire to. I like living. I like living a life. I like living a life of value. Living a life of value is creating a worthy existence. There was a time – and most of us have had a time or two like this – when I couldn’t see the value or worth behind who I was or who I hoped to become. Life isn’t always delivered at out doorstep in just the right color or size. It usually shows up at the end of a very long day, when tempers are short and so is cash.
The truth is that life is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. What fits for me will not fit for you. What floats your boat may sink mine. What makes you happy may possibly make me miserable. And where I find joy might just be where you couldn’t give a crap. The truth is, unbelievably, subjective. The whole perception is reality becomes a known truth when acceptance supersedes tolerance. And here’s a truth, I like being 50. I wasn’t sure I would, for my life had not turned out at all like I expected nor worked toward. Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) results are surprisingly welcome and exactly what was needed.
Last summer, I did something I swore I would never do. I pimped my writing by using a modern-day reference – but it wasn’t to get attention or attract readers – it was because many people shorten my name to Ray and I knew 50 was just one more turn around the sun for me – so 50 Shades of Ray was written. I only felt bad for a moment, because it was fun and unpredictable and what better way to embrace wisdom gained then to show a side of you not yet revealed.
Someone once told me…
Someone once told me that the alternative to getting older isn’t that great. I agree. But I also know that because I have lived the way I have lived and if I was told that tomorrow was my last day, I would be ok with that. I believe that most people pretty much do the best they know how – why wouldn’t I give myself the benefit of that same doubt and offer me, Rayanne, the same belief? I have done the best that I know how. I have lived the best that I know how. I learned long ago that regret is a lonely companion. And I have tried to teach my children that same lesson. Live life without regrets and be prepared for whatever may happen.
A few days ago, I was swimming in the Pacific Ocean in an area known for a few outcroppings and reefs, it is a favorite surfing destination because the waves are good, access is limited, and not everyone knows about it – a favorite local spot, well…, mine anyway. Additionally, the ocean and shoreline views are phenomenal. A nice swell brewed and stirred up a little riptide into which my legs were quickly caught, and I was unaware of my plight. A whistle from shore caught my attention and signaled that I move south as I had drifted into a dangerous area. I made a furtive but futile effort to move to safety as a set of waves began to impede my diligent work. I dove under wave after wave while moments in between were spent swimming in the opposite direction that I was being pulled. The last wave was a doozy and in an effort to avoid a pounding by that wave, I dove deeply bringing my legs in tight to keep from getting caught by the clip of the wave overhead. Pulling my legs in just might have saved my life as it slowed my descent slightly. My dive came to an abrupt halt as my forehead and nose came in direct, full-front contact with a submerged and jagged reef.
I have been ocean swimming my whole life with not even a jelly fish sting to show for it, so this was quite a surprise for me. I quickly surfaced with full recognition of what had just happened and increased my efforts to get to shore. When I reached the shore, before leaving the water, I washed the blood from my forehead, nose, and left palm – assessing the damage. Tom, my fiance, looked me over closely with much concern. I was fine, barely shaken but fine, you see I am a tough chick. But as I sat in my beach chair, over the course of the hour that followed, the full impact of what had just happened began to truly envelope me. I looked at Tom and said, “I feel pretty lucky right now.” And I did. Oh, I knew I was going to hurt – a lot – over the next couple days and that the scrapes bruises on my face may take a couple weeks to heal, but I couldn’t keep the smile away. I had just experienced a life moment and understood fully what had happened and what could have happened.
Broken teeth, broken nose, or broken neck. Knocked unconscious and drowned or knocked unconscious and pulled further into the jagged rocks that now claimed some of my blood. Every year, I witness unwitting swimmers who meet a dangerous or heartbreaking outcome. I was a lucky one. I won’t forget that.
Strength made me believe I could do more than I thought, and strength also saved my life. Never underestimate the power within nor the magnitude of seemingly simple acts. I never will again.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
Stay strong. Age is only a number.
by Rayanne Thorn