The Chapter of 50


In less than 2 months I’ll be turning 50.  I can’t quite get my head around this.  I think I’ve avoided giving it much thought.  I can be a coward this way, but unfortunately, and you’d think I would’ve learned this by now, you can’t avoid the inevitable.

So, here I am; about to climb this mountain called “50”.  I’ve climbed the hill of 20, the butte of 30, the foothill of 40, but nothing compares by far to this.  If I want to be ready I’d better saddle up and get on with it.

So, as I clear my head and contemplate the next chapter in the Book of My Life I need to review what’s driven the plot to this point.  When I was young, life was a vast and limitless expanse without boundary and without end.  Anything was possible and there was no sense of urgency.  I had the luxury to be aimless.  This was just my nature no matter how hard I tried to be goal-oriented and structured.  To try to be anything else usually ended badly; running smack into that proverbial brick wall.

I’ve made some huge and tragic blunders along the way.  I still carry a heavy sack of regrets behind me but this too is my nature and part of this journey.  I haven’t yet learned to leave the baggage behind.  Something inside has yet to be discovered.

I’ve learned what may appear to others only a thimble full of things, but I know I’ve learned much more than a few buckets can hold, although not yet enough to fill the ocean.  They say this is called wisdom.  Well, sometimes those buckets spill and can’t always be banked on.  Not just yet.  Thankfully, buckets can be refilled.

So now I’m preparing to climb this mountain.  It doesn’t look impossible but it demands a different approach and different skills.  When I reach the top the End will finally appear somewhere on the horizon and will never leave my sight again.  I have no clue how close or how far it will be.  Oddly, it causes a giddiness to flutter inside of me.  Something whispers, “you’re almost there.”

I recall long ago reading that in Native folklore a woman wasn’t considered to be fully mature until she reached 50.  At the time, I didn’t consider what it meant beyond a good excuse to remain immature in a lot of the things I thought and how I handled myself then.  Now I’ve seen a glimmer of what that means and even that little glimmer is dazzling.  Maybe it’s just the glinting of the water in those buckets.

That quiet voice inside is telling me that the Chapter of 50 will be the best so far.  The anticipation of finally seeing the End appear isn’t something to fear.  It’s a candle in the dim world of youthful aimlessness; a brilliant point of focus.  Now, with my baggage and my buckets it’s time to climb the mountain and begin to fill the ocean.  Setting goals won’t bind me in unreasonable chains.  It will be kindling to stoke the fires of some unknown engine which will carry me to exactly where I’ve always wanted to go.  It’s now finally time to take the potential out of my pocket and fly it like a flag at the summit.  The woman inside is ready to take existence to her bosom with wisdom and without fear.  It’s finally time.

The inspiration behind these thoughts was fueled by a wonderful post on the blog Cancerkillingrecipe by a lovely woman named Anna.  The post is entitled My 65-th Birthday.  I encourage you to visit her world.  It’s an amazing place.

A Boy’s Question


This is the latest entry in the 100-Word-Challenge for Adults.  This week’s challenge was to use the words “… I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you..”

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“What’s the meaning of life?”  the boy asked the old man.

Rearranging noisy bones he replied, “Life has no meaning, boy.”

The boy stared, thunderstruck.

“But why are we here?”

“Look, to know what life is you first have to learn what life isn’t.  And believe me, son, there are almost as many things that life isn’t as there are stars in the sky.  When you’ve exhausted them all you’ll have your answer.”

“But I’ll never figure it out!” the boy whined.

“Some don’t,” the old man agreed.  “Now, I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you so I can rest.”

He smiled as the door clicked closed.

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To see my other 100-Word-Challenge entries go here.  To learn more about the 100-Word Challenge for Adults, read here.

The Challenge of an Empty Page


I’m sitting here staring at this blank page at a bit of a loss tonight.  The emptiness of it is daunting.  My “thought factory” isn’t running at full capacity today.  This leads me to think about the emptiness; the blankness.  I can’t help but ask myself why it intimidates me.  Upon reflecting, three reasons have volunteered:

Reason #1:  The responsibility to fill it.

When you’ve taken the solemn oath to write every day, the responsibility can sometimes be heavy.  Some days writing is easier than breathing.  Other days, like this, it’s a chore.  But this is my daily literary workout, keeping my tenuous relationship with words toned and ever-improving.  So write I must, like it or not.  The difficult times, as with everything, tend to yield the best results.

Reason #2:  Fear of what it will reveal.

This is the tempest.  When the words don’t come easily, my reaction is always negative and tempered with a dash of fear.  The blank page becomes a vast uncaring sea.  I poke at my keyboard throwing stones into the white water and wait to watch them sink.  I become a mockery of my own mind.  What will appear before me when I’m done?  What will it reveal to me about myself?  Will it be something  I don’t want to see?  When the words flow, I’m not concerned with this idea.  When they come with difficulty, I tremble a little.

Reason #3:  Forgetting the opportunity.

I forget sometimes this blank page is a gift.  It’s an opportunity waiting to be snatched up; a dare to be taken.  The page says, “Here I am.  Can you fill me?  What will we create today?”  In this white void all possibilities wait to be shaped.  I think about the great minds who have sat before an empty page just like this one and what works they’ve created:  Shakespeare, Twain, Dickens.  For them, timeless classics were birthed from the same empty space. This is my opportunity to open my mind.  It’s my turn to cast my nets into the infinite sea of words to see what I will catch there.  It’s my time to do what I love most.

I know it sounds cliché, and it is, but life is like this; an empty page to be filled.  Every day, every minute, in this very moment we have this empty page before us.  Some days we only throw stones at it, but still there are ripples.  Other days we paint masterpieces.  Most days wander in between.  So, I guess this page is my life’s mirror.  It tells me where I am, metaphorically speaking.  I’m not sure if I threw a stone today or something else entirely.  I guess in the long run it doesn’t matter.  At least I threw a stone, cast my net and watched the ripples.