Half-Life . . . do you remember this term from chemistry class? It is the time required for half of something to undergo a process. Rarely is it applied to our lives . . . perhaps because we do not know when life in the physical body ends . . . you could be young, you could be old. But I have found a line to draw for half-life, and that is at 50, for though it may be doable, it is rare for lives to reach past 100 years.
For the first 50 years, you are struggling uphill through all kinds of battles, and then 50 happens and something changes, perhaps we intuitively know that the crest has been reached and that the downhill slide has begun. It feels freer being past 50. Your ‘vision’ seems clearer, like the veil of confusion over what matters in life has been removed. All of the drama that others want to wrap within their waking hours you see as a pure waste of a precious resource. More than that, since you know it, you just smile and continue along your gentle downhill path. Sometimes, you pause a moment to glance back over your shoulder and see if anyone is going to join you. It matters not if you see anyone there, for they could still be on their uphill climb and you are now hidden beyond their horizon. So you face forward again, smile at the wonders all around you and resume walking in their glow.
Memories are more beautiful when you are past 50, for you have learned to leave the stained ones in the past. Each day is more precious for you truly know that they are numbered now. The lines upon your face remind you of that fact, a gentle reminder each morning that the goal each day should be to create more beautiful lines upon it. And there are reminders that you do not know the length of your half-life so you will not waste it . . . for you see others pass from this life before you who were not too far along in their half-lives . . . and those who never made it to the half-life point in time. And so, at 57 (my year of the “ketchup” and catch up), my lines, both the line drawn at 50 and the lines upon my body, remind me to live my life. My life.
So, do not wonder why I am enraptured by each sunset and not by false honors, or why I care not what you have done in the past, good or bad, as much as I do about the beautiful changes I see in your lives now for I am envisioning those wonderful futures that I may never be around to see, or why I refuse the drama around me and instead preach peace and love. But more than anything, do not wonder why I smile longingly up to the ever-changing clouds in the sky or stare a little bit longer into your eyes, for you will come to know their meaning soon enough . . . when you reach your half-life.
Note: written on my ‘half-life’ day of this year, half way through the year of the ketchup.