It happened today. My fifty-fifth birthday snuck up and slapped me. Hard. Really frigging hard.
I long ago mastered the dark art of downplaying my birthday. Avoiding the limelight. Deflecting the invitations to celebrate.
It’s never been about resisting getting old. I simply don’t enjoy the attention.
Today, as I watched the birthday posts tick up on my Facebook page and text messages flash up on my phone, my unease thickened and gelled, like a leviathan glob in my gut. I don’t want to be fifty-five. I don’t want to be unequivocally in the mid-fifties demographic. And, I certainly don’t want to be glaring down the barrel of sixty.
For the first time ever, I had a sense of being defined by my age. Not by what anyone else said or by how I was treated, but by my own insecurities about my age.
Normally I’m on top of this shit. I profess (to anyone who’ll listen) that growing old is a privilege far surpassing the alternative. I tell all how lucky I am to have the opportunity to age gracefully. That age is just a number. All the clichés. Line ‘em up.
Today, I didn’t believe my own spin. It fell horribly short. I felt sombre and anxious … and old. I felt like those other people – the ones who bemoan each birthday as a step closer to the grave.
Mostly, I felt a sense of loss for my younger self.
This shit is getting serious.
Being fifty-five feels very different to being fifty-something.
Faaarrrrk! Faaarrrk! Faaarrrrk!