An Ode to our 50s

I am listening to a piece of music I last listened to seriously  when I was 21 years old.

One night I stayed at home, turned off all the lights and the phone and switched on the large state-of-the-art 80s black stereo.

I remember so vividly staring starry eyed at the ceiling, and being filled with the deepest excitement: a fathomless black velvet pent up possibility, potential energy of the deepest, most profound kind.

I lay in darkness, and alone, in my flat. I was filled to overflowing with the infinite inventiveness of the universe into which I had been born.

My life lay stretching before me: a man, a life of the pen, the possibility of fame or infamy,  the yet-unfurled life, a great Via Apia reaching over a life-landscape. An open book? It was a great epic play, a film, a masterpiece waiting to happen.

And now I listen again. And in the way only music can, it pulled me straight back to lying there in a darkened room listening to Rachmaninov with a Cher 80s hairdo and a heart full of dreams.

And I have lived a full 48 years. Perhaps a year ago I might have looked back at a fairly conventional family life and experienced regret.

But here’s the thing: in just 12 months life has put me in a handcart and tipped me upside down. And as I listen once again to the velvet clarion call, I realise that this is the moment we, in and around our mid life, wait for.

We come into our zenith as we reach our half century, and all the experiences, the pain, the drudgery,  the joy and celebration, the family life and moments snatched alone; all the times you have stood utterly alone for those you love: it equips you for something. Is it why they burned people our age as witches? We knew too much, Morganas  every one of us.

So: if you are standing in mid life, I would counsel you to listen once again to the dreams of your youth. Not only is it not too late to achieve them: any time before now would have been too soon.

The person for the job is You: and the moment is Now.

Go create.


47 thoughts on “An Ode to our 50s

    1. Penny, you live those sentiments every day of your life and I watch in awe from the sidelines. Love to you and Tom and that wonderful family of yours. And of course, the deer.

  1. A heartfelt post, Kate, one that most of us can also take to heart. As they say, each moment is the beginning of the rest of your life; the trick is to have something to aim for or look forward to, something to live for. All best wishes to you.

      1. The funny part is that people who knew me during other “inventions” think I’m still that other person. Makes me giggle and wonder. I thought everyone changed over time but I guess not.

  2. Sometime in my thirties, I had lunch with an uncle. We had not seen each other for many years (he lives abroad). He asked me mischievously if I had achieved my dream from when I was eight..
    I asked him to remind me.
    He replied “To be the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion”.
    My boyhood Nacho Libre dreams remain unfulfilled… for the time being…

    For me, there seem to be pivotal gateway times in one’s life – I am currently having one – which can change the past in positive ways, re-activating dreams long forgotten… like the night when dreaming turtles hatch, and at dawn race to the ocean and their chance at life.

    1. This reply should be posted as a blog in its own right 🙂 Next stop, World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion…(on a personal note I should take off my blogging coat of many colors and urge you to take infinite care).The turtles are epic, and sum up that feeling of being on the edge, poised, ready to risk anything for a real, bona fide adventure. Thank you.

  3. I love the image of you listening to that stereo! I have those moments from time to time, but they seem to come less now as I grow older. I need to recapture them – as you have. Not that it is ever easy or good necessarily, but sometimes maybe having that handcart tipped over is what life needs. A new start. A new perspective.

    Of course I say this as I sit here listening to Pink Floyd. Again. As I have for so many years with my old books and old cars….

    1. Handcart-tipping. I could write a book, Michael, and perhaps I will. For now, lets make one adventure you and yours coming over to the UK to see a few classic cars and London buses close up: and visiting London Necropolis Graveyard, which I pass every morning and tip my hat to on the way to work.

  4. Sometimes, though, it can be found that the great music inspired dreams in one’s youth which one can look back at as being rather silly or lacking ambition. The same music can later give rise to dreams which would have had the younger self breathless with wonder.
    I do know that a half-century ago I would not have dared to aspire to the things which I have since done and am doing.
    Your counsel holds good for any age: pursue dreams of youth, but in the absence of worthy subjects constantly search for new ones.

    1. Col, coming from you, an accomplished writer, composer, creator and grandfather, this comment makes complete sense. I imagine you must have way outreached the dreams you started out with. I have no idea how you have achieved it all and remained as grounded as you have. I continue to watch you in awe from the sidelines 🙂

  5. Wonderful! It sounds like hope is shining bright through the darkness you have experienced. That makes my heart happy 🙂 . As I read, I thought of this quote from Anne of Green Gables “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.”

    1. I love that, Hope, thank you so much. Your voice, and with it the Spirit’s, has been there through all the uncertainty of the past year. You touch people’s lives through your writing. Long may that continue 🙂

  6. Whilst it might appear that there are discrete chapters in our story of life, there triggers or bookmarks such as music or a walk along a beach that remind us of the past and enrich us going forward. Our own theme runs throughout, and the plot twist is to hold those closest to us close, and to keep aspiring and looking forward in this ever ending story.

    1. Bri, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you came along, read, and took the time to write such a beautiful comment today. You and I knew each other in the Big Hair Days and each of us have gone on to live a full half a century. Our families are testament to that.. The future, I am quite sure of it, is full of adventure 🙂 All the best to that wonderful family of yours. And the dogs.

  7. I have been told by my 80 year old mum that the 50’s are the best years of life. I will continue to choose be happy in each moment, for each moment is connected to the past and future. I always find it amazing how a song to take up back to a time and place. All the more reason to have music a part of each day. Thanks for the mind bending thoughts your post created.

  8. I love this post, Kate. It’s a celebration of the benefits and gifts of growing older, even though many of them come from the darkest of places. We have learnt that the shadows harbour many of the forces that lead to wisdom and acceptance of ourselves. xx

  9. My handcart certainly got tipped this year. And as I slowly right myself and plot my course forward, your words will inspire me. “Any time before now would have been too soon.”

  10. I shall be 48 in March, Kate, which is double the age that I lie to myself. I can’t say that life has tipped me out of my handcart, it’s more a case of me falling out again and again and again. And yes, it is never too late to start over. Thank you for the reminder.

  11. Thank you and Amen! I am on my way right now to Southern California to experience a weekend rite of passage with 7 women for my 50th year- the corner turns. I wish I could say I was listening to Rachmaninov in my dark room at 21 . . . I think it was Duran Duran.

  12. Hello Kate – I read your blog on the day you published it, but only now feel in a position to share a reply. To quote from the end of your post: “The person for the job is You: and the time is Now.”

    You have no idea how timely or appropriate seeing those words were for me when I first read them.


    M xx

  13. I have very fond memories of turning 50. And I did look forward to it, and even though I’m now past it, I still look forward to realizing my dreams. I’m not done yet and, happily, neither are you. Great post, Kate 🙂

  14. Tippy handcarts do have a way of offering a shot at reinvention, don’t they? My first realspill was about seven years ago, and in some ways I’ve still got the crutches from the recovery, but I do love the things I learned to embrace in the aftermath, and as for that zenith, I have to say I find the next decade an exciting prospect. You are one of a handful of women I’ve encountered who make their forties look very, very good. Any fears I might have had about mine have been erased by your example. Rock on.

  15. I have a very slight problem with this having been last night to a performance by Meow Meow, kamikaze cabaret star, and now seized with the desire to be her. But I’m even more ancient than you – is it possible, do you think, to master operatic singing, acrobatic dancing, risque clowning and the dark arts of sexy cabaret in, say, the next year?

    1. Gert, I can only go by what I myself would do in the same circumstances. The dark arts of sexy cabaret sound most appealing and personally I would be putting that in my must-do list. Clowning -especially risque- similarly. Mastering skills is more time consuming for me than it once was, but I bring a new dimension to what I do these days: if it were me I would hire myself the best operatic and acrobatic coaches available and set out on the long journey towards vocal proficiency on the flying trapeze.

      1. I’ll start straight away. I’ve been further inspired by seeing the oldest contortionist in the world, a 71-year-olf woman who can do a backbend so that her feet are on the ground in front of her head, with the greatest of ease. Believe it, achieve it!

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