Middle-aged musings as this wanderer returns…

2 Jun 23

Those on the cusp of turning 50 take a variety of approaches. Ignore it or celebrate it? I know those who have adopted a denial strategy, those that have taken on the ’50 things at 50’ and those who have scheduled one killer activity a month across their birthday year.

I’m taking a different approach. I’ve identified three core chunks of 50th year activities – spring, summer and autumn. My birthday will fall in the middle of them.

Chunk one is recently completed (other than now having to find ways to pay for it, otherwise known as nose to grindstone and quickly…) and this has been the chunkiest of the three. Namely some decent travel, spread over a month. First was Thailand, a holistic wellness resort in Koh Samui. Stunning landscapes, wonderful food, like-minded fellow guests and a digital detox (note: didn’t miss it, didn’t need it, had a better time for it being locked in the room safe). Some drifting around the UK followed (including 3 nights back at my College to re-live student days), then most recently a walking tour of 3 Greek Islands. Stunning Santorini I have always wanted to see, Naxos and Paros provided the more laid-back Greek feel and some life-affirming walking trails.  BA / Terminal 5 and I are now not the best of friends, but the resourceful traveller always finds a way to reach a destination that has been meticulously planned and unbelievably long awaited, however long it takes, whatever time of night it is and whatever the apparent barriers (go on BA, ring Ticketing to sort it out, you know you can…I’ll even hand you back your pretzels, how’s that for meeting me half way?).

The summer chunk will involve much tennis. Thanks to the dear friend who has lined us up semi-final day at Queens and thanks unexpectedly to Wimbledon, Centre Court awaits. My first time through the ballot. There’s a seafood festival in there somewhere too.

Chunk three will broaden the brief as autumn arrives. A commitment to step back up to a half marathon in September and then – finally – fulfilling a lifelong ambition to fly a 747. Well ok, it’s a simulator but best get it done before they are no longer to be found in the UK. A childhood spent sitting down the back between London and Sydney indicates I can almost certainly grasp the fundamentals of aviation in a 30-minute briefing session, then get the thing off the ground (and even keep the sim on its base….).

What have I learnt (or remembered) so far?

  • That change – breaking the routine, lifting head, shutting down on the daily stuff and stepping back – is a tonic like no other. If there is an opportunity to wander, take it.
  • That 50 may have shaped up a little differently to expectations, but I am doing it – planned it, executing it, loving it. Someone even said I look 40, so new best friends can be found along the way too. Liar.
  • That being away from the day-to-day lends an opportunity to be your best self, all the bits that sometimes get forgotten and trampled on by ‘life’. Take a long look at the best you before coming home and pack that you in the homebound luggage.
  • That there’s some staggeringly beautiful places and cultures on the planet. We all knew that right? (Maybe, given the last few years, we have forgotten).
  • That it’s still winter in the UK at the end of April. Seriously?….
  • That the type and layout on the front cover of the new ‘blue’ UK passport spotlights QUIM at its centrepiece – overlooked, or a designer’s revenge?….
  • That ‘it’s just a number’ is utter cobblers when it comes to trying to make me feel better about turning 50. It is for me an important number, the turning of a life corner and comes with all sorts of thoughts and feelings. The landmark activities make it wonderful and memorable.
  • That work did wait for a month. Some leads disappeared, some new ones came up. The ‘we need to get it done tomorrow’ thing (as usual) has proved to be not necessarily the case. Self-employment means you don’t walk away easily (at all), but the business is here and I can’t wait to see what some different and refreshed perspective will bring to it.