Forty-nine suits me. I haven’t been this age for long, but I am already more comfortable here than I thought I’d be. I received a birthday card that said: OMG are you 49? Wow! That’s so close to 50 without actually being 50.
Somehow when a sentiment like that is offered up by a younger brother it’s not as offensive as it otherwise might seem.
One of the reasons I like 49 is that it has a square root. I know that’s not earth shattering, but neither is it something you can lay claim to every year. The last time I was a square-rootable age was 36. That seems like a lifetime ago. And the next time will be 64, and I’ll have passed through at least two prime numbers to get there.
Perhaps more appealing though, is that my body and my age finally seem like they’re in sync. I think the contribution gravity has made actually makes my face look a little better. And now my soft belly and flabby arms (which are identical, I’m sorry to say, to those I was sporting in my twenties) are finally age appropriate.
I don’t think I laugh any harder or cry any less, but I do move through things more quickly. I’ve taken some advice that I read once in a Pema Chodren book: I try to see my thoughts and emotions more like clouds than like prison cells. They’re not places to dwell, but rather something to observe as they pass across the sky. It’s their nature to come and go.
People are sometimes surprised that I’m on the verge of 50 and I think that’s because, in general, I am very immature. Mentally, I've always been a bit stuck at age 13 and this becomes very evident when you see what strikes me as funny. I have a fifteen-year-old son and, for the most part, I think he and his friends are hilarious. For some reason, that kind of silly sense of humor still seems ok at 49. I may have to rethink it at 50.
Turning 40 practically left me in traction. Quite literally, I turned 40 and the next day I threw out my back and had to crawl into the doctor’s office. So I’m not inclined to look forward to anything that resembles a milestone.
I love that about 49. Its no-big-dealness. You’re in an unmarked car. No one even expects much wisdom from you yet. You’re only close. But no cigar.