I made a promise to myself when I was 39, that each year on my birthday I would be healthier than I was the previous year. I admit, after a decade of keeping this promise to myself it gets a bit more difficult. Now I find myself less than a month from my 50th birthday. Fifty. Five Zero. Half a Century. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck. I used to think the panic most people seem to experience at this particular milestone was silly and self-defeating. Now, I'm not so sure. As I race towards this birthday of dubious distinction I find myself in a very weird place in life. I am truely single for the first time in 27 years, a brand new homeowner, underemployed, and feeling severed from most familiar aspects of my life. I look towards my fiftieth year and have no idea what it holds. Even my regular circle of friends and dominant hobby are suddenly not really an option for me, are not the safe retreat from the woes of the world that they used to be.
As the fiftieth anniversary of my birth approaches and I evaluate myself, my body, my life, I wonder if I am going to be able to keep that decade old promise to myself. I admit, the last few months I have let my workout routine and careful nutrition slip a bit. Stress, grief, anger, anxiety, depression, lonliness, have all been excuses to indulge myself a bit here and there. The last six months of my 49th year have been less than optimal, they were like a tailor-made hell. Just about every aspect of my life was in turmoil. I wasn't sure I would survive that particular trial by fire. But I managed to come through, wounded and scarred, but still mostly whole.
So I evaluate myself, my promise, my pending Half Century mark, and wonder if I am healthier. Am I? It's a tough call. I admit, I'm a few pounds heavier, and just now getting back to a hardcore workout routine. But weight and strength are not the only measures of health. I have flayed open my heart, mind and soul these last few months, examining myself through the magnifying, critical eye of self-doubt. I have spent countless sleepless hours staring at the insides of my eyelids, prying into the corners of my mind, probing through my soul, poking my flaccid spirit with a stick as a child pokes the dead jellyfish washed up on the sand. Countless hours both night and day examining myself, taking brutal advantage of hundreds of hours spent alone and lonely with no one to distract me from my own painful interrogations. I have played good cop/bad cop with myself, asking myself "why," demanding explanations, beating myself repeatedly with the proverbial rubber hose. I am the queen of self-flagellation, self-recriminations and self-doubt. So, where does all this self-inflicted brutalizing get me? I has led me to a deeper understanding of myself, my needs, my desires, and also my strengths and powers.
Despite the tears shed on a daily basis, the cries against the unfairness of the roads I have chosen, the numerous times I have shaken my fist at the gods and screamed, "It's NOT fair! This is NOT what I deserve!" Despite all this, I can look into my heart, battered and scarred as it is, and see the strength it holds. I can look at what I have achieved with my own two hands, my own will, my sheer stubborness, and see that it is good, or will be someday. I can look at my solitary existence and though I may weep from desperate lonliness, I can feel the power of independence coursing through my spirit. After all my self examinations I think my diagnosis is that I have a mercurial yet introverted personality exacerbated by artistic temperment and acute empathy. I will never be content to take the easy path.
So, am I healthier? Yes. No. I don't know. I do think that I may be coming upon an age when I will find myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthier than I have ever been, once I can get past the current onslaught of angst and fear. I am searching for balance, peace, harmony, health. And the search is leading me towards my own truths, my own reality. What will I find in this next Half Century?