Monday, March 8, 2010

On Turning Fifty and Thoughts on Nostalgia

n. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I am not a particularly nostalgic person, and generally think of nostalgia as a nearly completely useless emotion that can suck one into a place one could get stuck -- and not in a good way. Not only does it rob one of the beauty of the present, it also renders one ungrateful for current blessings as well as all those received on the journey from then to now. Nostaglia unchecked can render one stunted in any sort of growth due to life experience, whether good or bad. I do get "curious" about my past, though.

For the past several months, friends I grew up with have been coming out of the woodwork it seems. These are folks who I have not spoken with or heard from for a good solid 20 or 30 years or more. I must say, it's been great fun, and I'm going to go out on a limb and hypothesize that this trip down memory lane has something to do with all of us hitting approximately at the same time the 50-year mark. Facebook has certainly been helping the process along. (Just enter your schools along with the date of graduation, and you'll probably find lots of friends you've lost track of over the years.) While this sort of thing could trigger feelings of nostalgia, I've more felt curious as much for my own past and journey as for those of my friends.

So in some ways the process of hooking up with the past has been helpful to me. Not just in the way that I'm not the only one with gray hair, sagging facial and other features who's put on a few pounds over the years. (Shwew!) But even better and more important is that I can see that the essence of what I liked about all those kids so long ago has grown and intensified -- the adults have become more themselves than they were. And since I think I've done the same, it's magical in a way because I still like the same things about these friends. It's been fun getting reacquainted. And I've missed them. They know about me in a way my more recent friends never will, and I find this history valuable, although I'm not interested in repeating any history!

And so far, I'm really feeling pretty happy with fifty. In my head, I'm 28, and feel like acting like I'm 16 sometimes. I've been renewing my love for music, trying to wear lipstick a little more often, and actually thinking about buying a bicycle. I used to like riding a bike to get places. It could work for me here in the mountains if I have enough of those low gears and a comfortable seat to accomodate my 50 year old body. And I guess a helmet these days -- honestly though, how did we all ever grow up without all the body protection gear? And I'm beginning to see the need to take dance breaks between beadmaking sessions.