Now that I’m in my 50s, I kinda thought I would have my life figured out. It may have been all those sitcoms I watched as a kid. I thought I would have at least received a copy of my permanent record by now… but all I’ve come to realize is that life is mysteriously cyclical, and each new day presents another opportunity to get a strike. Or at least pick up a spare.
There are so many unexplained things happening on this planet that we humans ignore, as we busy ourselves with work and recreational pursuits. It is the year 2022 and scientists still have not observed eels mating in the wild. Sure, they’ve captured eels and observed their reproductive cycle in captivity, but that’s like watching a sex show in Amsterdam and claiming to have witnessed true love. Not necessarily the same thing.
Meanwhile, the Earth is shifting and changing in ways that could lead to our demise faster than you can say underground bunker — much less get to one. Take the recent volcano in the Pacific for example. Plates are shifting and releasing gasses from the planet’s core, which has the power to render life as we know it as meaningless as a pair of Manolos in a bowling alley.
Since 1980, I have only bowled a handful of times. It was never my favorite pastime, even if I didn’t have to wear shoes that weren’t my own. Meanwhile in the last 40 years, the north and south poles have shifted four meters* (13 feet). It would seem that Earth is getting a hitch in her giddy up.
Apparently, our planet shifts on its axis as it hurtles through the cosmos, and this shifting causes a wobble called polar motion, which has to do with the ratio of water to land. Wobbles, in my opinion, are not good. The fact that we’re out here in the “unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy,” as explained by Douglas Adams, spinning along as though we have nothing but time and oil, is a friggin’ miracle in itself. And if the delicate balance of water to hardened lava tips too far to one side or the other, then it really won’t matter how cute our shoes are.
Humans are cute, objectively, but we should remember that we’re not irreplaceable. (Which is a good thing, because you never want to be so good at your job that you can’t be promoted.) I like to imagine the gods and goddesses watching over us as we eat nachos, drink beer and hurl heavy balls down the lane, congratulating each other for knocking down all the pins while our planet is in serious jeopardy of becoming a gutter ball. I’m sure they can understand the levity we crave while living in such political clutter and chaos.
Each day we turn on our screens to witness the juxtapose of river and air pollution next to wildlife and wildlands. To watch billions of our tax dollars spent on bombing our fellow earthlings. To try to understand how the cast of Sex and the City and The Golden Girls can be portrayed as the same age. What an amazing age decade, the 50s! Especially for single women living their best lives with their best friends.
In my experience, by 50 years old we are fully oscillating between big-picture world issues and microscopic self needs, between gratitude and greed. And it is a balancing act to keep from becoming jaded to the plight of others, while still taking care of ourselves and protecting our own joy. There isn’t much wiggle room but, as they say, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.
Maybe that’s why people take up bowling in middle age — or better yet, curling (what they call bowling in Canada, eh?). A hobby with Zen-like repetition and adult beverages might be just the thing to make me temporarily forget about the state of our planet. And maybe when I’m hanging out with Betty White, enjoying nachos and beer while wearing hobby-specific shoes, I will look back and see that my 50s were when I figured it all out.