When we turned 50, death was undoubtedly closer than birth. Any mathematician can multiply by two. And I’m not betting on living to my hundredth birthday.
Even closer — closer than death — is the date when the world will stop seeing us. We will still walk the Earth, but without significance bestowed upon us by others. We become invisible. We become as irrelevant as anyone else who uses phrases such as “bestowed upon us.”
Several women have taught me that they became invisible when they turned 45 or 50. When walking into a room, nobody saw them. Depending on the person (and the room), this was both blessed relief from the leering of men and also a disappointing reminder of the march of time.
At 50, we could ask, what time is there after 50? Forty more years? Perhaps. Thirty more years of being taken seriously? Hard to count on that. How many 80 year olds are sought out for their counsel?
Time Is Not Our Friend
At 50, I asked you, “What do you want to do next?”
“I don’t know,” you said.
“Time is not our friend,” I said. “If we are to do anything for 10 or 20 years, we need to figure out what that is, soon. Time is not our friend.”
From time to time, I raised the same question, “What do you want to do next? Because, after all, time is not our friend.”
Ask The Two Questions
Eventually, on the advice of others, I asked you two questions:
- “On this topic, what do you want from me?”
- “On this topic, what do you not want from me?”
“That’s easy,” you said. “Continue to ask the question about what is next. What I want from you is to ask me every six months. What don’t I want? Don’t ask me every six minutes.”
We laughed. And those two questions have come in handy. Presuming to know the answers can jeopardize any relationship.
And now, I’m nearly 60 years old, and nearly celebrating my 75th birthday.