the ground running at 50
before I hit 50, I made important decisions that would
improve my life from 50 onwards. There were career moves
to make, a long, cold look at my marriage, plus a
pre-bucket bucket list of all the things I hadn't done and
wanted to do
night of my 46th birthday, my wife caught be barfing in a
friend's yard. I'd drunk too much beer and vodka, eaten too
many burgers. My head was spinning, my stomach was churning
like in the bad old days of frat parties and beer-induced
stupor. My furious wife drove me home, where I spent 14
hours in bed reassessing my life.
move: stop drinking. It was an easy decision to make.
From that night onwards, I haven't had a beer or glass of
wine. The thought of liquor turns my stomach.
move: get in shape, lose weight. I went onto amazon,
ordered half a dozen books about running, bought three pairs
of running shoes and decided I would run at least five times
a week until I hit 50. At 50, I'd decide whether I wanted to
continue running or find some other way to stay in shape. My
goal -- we all need goals -- was at 50 to run a 5k, 10k, and
marathon faster than I had done as a 40-something year old.
part was easy. Regular running lost me 30 pounds in less
than a year. My first 5k, as a 47-year-old, was run in 23
minutes 33 seconds. My first 5k as a 50-year-old was
completed in 18 minutes 17 seconds -- and I am still
improving. I can run a marathon in under 3 hours, something
I could not do at 35. And if you're a distance runner at 50,
you have a great heart and fantastic endurance. You don't
move: get tech savvy. I figured one of the ways older
people stay old and cut themselves off from what's going on
around them is to stop learning new tricks, to imagine that
what you know at 45 is all you'll need to know for the rest
of your life.
to amazon again, ordered a bunch of books about web design,
blogging, CSS, java script, php, xhtml, etc. I wasn't going
to become a web designer but I wanted to know what the heck
all that new stuff was about. Turned out it was easy, a lot
easier than my bachelor's degree in urban design.
move: marriage. Was I happy? Was my wife happy? Did we
encourage each other or make each other miserable? That was
a tough one. I wasn't happy with my sex life, nor, I am
sure, was I much of a lover. Sex had become routine.
my wife straight out? "Do you still love me? Do you
want to be with me for the rest of your life? Is there
anything about me that bugs you? Am I any good to you in
bed? Do you want me to leave?"
said she loved me but that my love-making had become boring.
She said I was too focused on THE ACT with no attention paid
to romance, foreplay and the afterglow. It was exactly as I
feared. I asked myself whether I really wanted to re-learn
how to romance my wife. It turned out that's exactly what I
had my own wish list for my wife that I insisted she do
something about: she had to lose 20 pounds; she had to be
better organized, stop dropping clothes and office materials
all over the house; she needed to look sharp around me. I
was serious about this; I didn't want to feel neglected. I
wanted to be treated as though I mattered, wanted my woman
to look good at my side.
move: work, money, and planning the future. Did I want
to stay in my job? Could I move? Could I start afresh?
Anything I wanted to do that I hadn't yet done?
decided to spend the next decade working exceptionally hard
but only at projects that gave me deep satisfaction and
pleasure. By 60, I promised myself I'd have all the money I
needed to retire, even though I might want to carry on
other goals were attended to: learn now to ski down any
slope no matter how steep and dangerous; do a couple of
parachute jumps; re-learn how to really appreciate good sex,
get into deep, deep love-making where there's a genuine
connection with my wife; buy a home abroad (I bought a
cottage for $10,000 in Portugal which I visit once a year);
have enough money to give each of my six kids $30,000 when I
turn 60 -- still working on that one.
is sweet, just fine. I can't say it feels much different
from 30, 40 or any age between. If you stay in shape, keep
your mind alive, look after your sexual needs, it's a
fantastic time of life. At long last, you feel in command --
master of your domain, as they once said on Seinfeld.