By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.  ~  Marie Dressler

It’s harder to find good quotes on turning fifty years old than a person would think.  There are many jokes about it such as:

My back goes out more than I do,

and

My ears have more hair than my head.

But that’s just not what I’m looking for.  I suppose finding the one good quote by Marie Dressler should be sufficient.  I just didn’t think it would be the only one.  Perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place as so many celebs are turning fifty this year.

Jon Bon Jovi, Emilio Estevez, Marcia Cross, Jim Carrey, Ally Sheedy, Tom Cruise, Eriq LaSalle, Wesley Snipes, Michelle Yeoh, Steve Carell, Nia Vardalos, Joan Cusack, Kelly Preston, Daphne Zuniga, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster, Felicity Huffman and Ralph Fiennes; just to name a few.

“50 years: here’s a time when you have to separate yourself from what other people expect of you, and do what you love. Because if you find yourself 50 years old and you aren’t doing what you love, then what’s the point?”  ~  Jim Carrey

“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you,”said a favorite mystery writer Agatha Christie.

And Jodie Foster had this to say about her upcoming fiftieth birthday:  “There’s a nice thing about turning a certain age where you’ve made so many life decisions; so many non-chosen paths are behind you, and you don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Abdul, Sheryl Crow and Star Jones all turned fifty this year.  It’s a nicer group to be part of when you think of these people instead of the multiple invitations for joining AARP that show up in the snail mail and email on a daily basis.

And of course Ernest Hemingway had a thing or two to say about aging, though he was contemplating and likely planning his suicide by this period in his life.

“In order to write about life, you must live it,” he said.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
―    Ernest Hemingway,    The Sun Also Rises

This is the part that starts to catch up with us.  Only .006% to 12%, depending on whose calculations you use, of the world’s population lives to be one hundred years old.  So at fifty, the chances that you are on the downside of the arc of your life seems likely.  It could be depressing.

But it can also be challenging and the best part of life, especially for a writer.  At fifty we have lived through enough to have a little grist for the writing mill.  And we are less daunted by rejection and suggestions for rewrites than we would have been at twenty or even thirty.  I think we are also less afraid to say what we think and not especially concerned about whether or not everyone will like us.

Instead of a sunset, we should think of it as a sunrise, like this glorious one here at Garden City Beach in South Carolina where I am watching the waves carry out my forties and usher in the fifties.

Yes, that’s right.  Writingfeemail is turning fifty.  Yikes!

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