Midlife Doldrums At 56

I’m 56 at the end of May and I really don’t know how I feel about it. 56 seems to be a crossroads.  The decisions we make now will either transport us further down the path to ill health, to a reduction in our faculties, to a life less lived or towards a future as a ‘super ager’ greeting the sunrise with yoga, travelling the world (I’m assuming we will be free again one day!).

I’m feeling antsy – and not just because we’re in lockdown.  Perhaps this is what is meant by a midlife crisis and I’m about to do an ‘Elizabeth Gilbert’ (Eat, Love, Pray) and hotfoot it to some tropical hotspot.

Needless to say, my old foe, ‘the bucket list’ has sprung into life containing all those things I think I should do before I snuff it.  COVID-19 has certainly brought our bucket lists looming into view, hasn’t it!

I think the other thing which the Coronavirus pandemic has done is to start a discussion on what is ‘old’.  When are you ‘old’?

Many of us 50-somethings had no idea that the Government and medical establishment viewed us as senior.  Even now there is talk that we should continue to isolate ourselves, along with the 60s, 70s and older.

I don’t know about you but that has come as quite a shock.  Someone seems to have moved the goalposts when I hadn’t even got my boots on!

And I still really don’t know what I want to ‘do for a living’.  You know, how, as a teen, you were encouraged to map out a life path – university, job, marriage, home, kids, empty nest, retirement, death …….?

How many of us did all of those things, or those things in order?  And did we enjoy the process?  Have we finally realised that the journey to these things was our life?

Of course I’ve read plenty of stuff about mindfulness, the power of NOW, living in the moment but unless you are a Buddhist Monk or routinely get up at sunrise, I just don’t see how it can be done.

As 50 somethings we have more responsibilities than we did as young adults.  Kids, mortgages, elderly parents, retirement planning and on, and on.

No wonder the temptation is there to, as I often threaten, move to The Highlands and live in an isolated croft.

The Husband laughs as this is plainly ridiculous.  I am a terrible gardener and my health anxiety is such that I need my support system (GP, optician, dentist, physio) within reach.

Bear Grylls I am not.

It may be a menopausal symptom but I don’t seem to be able to think clearly.  I can’t plan or set goals at the moment.  I am literally swimming in a soup of my own confused thoughts.

It’s great, though, that there are so many vibrant older women to inspire us.  At 85, Dame Judi Dench is about to be the oldest person ever to grace the cover of British Vogue.  Joanna Lumley is entertaining people in the queue for her local Sainsburys.  Vera Lynn is back in the charts.

I’m hoping that 56 is just a blip in the road and that clarity will descend.  This is where I am, who am I and where I’m going.

Problem is, there are no ‘milestone’ for oldies are there?  First statin prescription?  First Equity Release catalogue?  The focus appears to be relentlessly on staying alive.

At almost 56 I am still searching for life’s meaning as much as I ever was.

How about you?