What's so great about being fifty?

Well, as Bilbo Baggins said, himself fifty at the beginning of The Hobbit, it is “clearly time for a new adventure!”

Peter Baker | 21:45, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

And then there were the Levites of the Old Testament Temple, who are told in Numbers 8:25, “from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of service and serve no more.” 

Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell me something as I move elegantly, if thinningly, grey- haired towards 51 (!) -  it’s time for a new adventure.

But I am neither a Hobbit (although I do have two webbed toes on each foot!), nor a Levite (yet I like wearing their jeans!!).  I am middle of the road, middle aged, Mondeo Man. Somehow I think my days of adventure are over.

However, if recent research is to be believed, two things have become true. We are growing up faster - children are angst ridden teenagers long before leaving primary school. And mid-life crisis now begins at 30!

Apparently that decade can bring a level of dissatisfaction which used to characterize people in their late 40’s to 50’s. People’s dreams are being shattered earlier than ever.
Maybe because so many carry unrealistic life expectations.

The irony is that because of improvements in health and living standards, we are now living longer at the same time as we are growing up faster!

So by that calculation I am accelerating rapidly towards a second mid-life crisis, having seen my first one disappear in the rear view mirror of my soft top convertible! (which I sold by the way!!)

What has the Bible to say about being fifty? Well, apart from that Levite reference, very little. But it does have a lot to say about how to grow old contentedly. In fact it roots us into a rhythm of life which has necessary chapters and seasons. “There is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

Sometimes I wonder if a mid-life crisis has to do with the struggle to accept that time doesn’t stand still.

I wish I could enjoy the best parts of the various chapters of my life all at the same time. So I’d like to hold onto the social independence of my student days, my prime physical condition as a 25 year old, my relative affluence at my career peak, or the freedom I hope retirement may give me. But things are rarely that straightforward.  

As with so much in our lives, we need to strike the balance of the famous prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”


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