A month from today I turn “50”! I can’t wait.
As I said before, I’ve always wanted to be an old lady; turning 50 feels like I’m stepping onto that path. Just dipping my toes into the waters. I’ll go swimming in the Old Lady lake later, but soon I’ll just test the waters.
Being young at heart is important to me and so I am returning to my daring youth and taking my family to Whistler for my birthday so we can all ride the zip line. I’m exhilarated just thinking about it. And terrified. I can’t imagine having to step off the platform and into the abyss.
When I was in my twenties I went skydiving two times. Once with a friend and again about a year later with a group of other amputees. The first time was a challenge, the second time was terrifying. When it was time to step out of the plan and onto a little tiny step, I looked down (the wrong thing to do) and said, “I can’t do it.” The plane circled around, but I was given a warning: Say no again and we’ll fly you back to earth. I hadn’t paid good money for a short plane ride, so I made myself step out of the plane and onto the tiny little step. When they told me to let go, I did. I spread my arms and counted to ten and then pulled the cord. I was safe. I was floating. I was flying, or as close as I could in human form.
There’s something about taking these risks that reminds me of not only my mortality, but also of my spirit. The courage to step into my fear and right through it, trusting that I will be OK, is more exciting than floating through the air. Knowing that I have the fortitude and the guts carries me through the more mundane parts of life. The memory of those experiences stay with me, reminding me that I am a risk-taker.
After I had children, taking these kinds of risks wasn’t worth it to me. My dad drowned when I was 13 years old and I was unwilling to do anything that put my life at risk and leave my children without a mother.
My kids are older now and I can do the zip line with them. I can share my joy, my screams, and my Hot Damns with them. I can show them how fun risk can be.
I want to step off the zip line platform on the day I turn 50 and remind myself that I have the courage to step into every day of my life. I want to rekindle that younger part of myself that was willing to fly instead of take the safe way back to earth.
Some may call this a mid-life crisis, the desire to return to my youth. I call it mid-life clarity. Finding out, again, that living life to it’s fullest is what’s important.