Rep. Leni Robredo turned 50 yesterday. On the eve of her birthday, she conquered one of her greatest fears: getting on a zipline. Amazing.
I think of her, and I think of me and my best friend in Disneyland a couple of weeks ago, pondering for many hours whether we would get inside Lightning McQueen and zip through a faux Arizona desert. I know, we’re scaredy-cats like that.
Instead, we ended up in Mr. Toad’s wild ride, stared at dolls in It’s A Small World, and zapped aliens with Buzz Lightyear—two 50-year-olds feeling like we were five years old all over again.
Maybe we’ll be braver when we hit 60. So much of life lies ahead, after all.
In her latest book, “Your Life Calling,” Jane Pauley writes, “A few years ago, researchers made an unexpected discovery that around the age of 40, people begin to experience feelings of dissatisfaction and a diminished sense of well-being…But the bigger surprise was the rebound effect. At around the age of 50, feelings of well-being begin to rise again—and keep on rising, well into the 70s. In the 21st century, 50 is the beginning of a new and aspirational time of life.” Wow. So much to look forward to when I read that.
‘Til we’re 70
Which brings me to the subject of a famous song that my daughter, Pia recently introduced me to. The first time I heard Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” I immediately fell in love with it. But I also remember asking her, “Ay. Bakit 70 lang?”
“And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70/
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23/
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways/ Maybe just the touch of a hand/ Well, me-I fall in love with you every single day…”
I don’t know if it’s because Sheeran is still young and he thinks that 70 is still a long way off into the future, but for people like myself, 70 is just 20 heartbeat years away. Then again, didn’t they just say that 60 was the new 40?
What this drives home to me, and I suppose this is why I’ve been humming it in my head for the last few days, is really, the brevity of life, and the value of each day. How many more years do we have left to love our children, parents, spouses, partners? How many more years are there to live our dreams? To finish the projects brewing in our heads? How many more years to make a difference, and help in the advocacies that tug at our hearts?
Not everyone is given the chance to live or love until they are 70. Paano na? Then again, there are the blessed ones like Boots Anson-Roa and King Rodrigo, who found love again a few steps away from 70 and made us all believe that hope does spring eternal.
I think of family and friends who were called Home so early in life—there are my friends Patty, Melanie and Liezl, who left us all in their mid-40s. I’m grateful that when I ponder upon their lives, that they were loved well and that they loved and lived so well. They made enough memories to carry those who were left behind through the occasional grey days that come with grieving—a stockpile of memories to lift them up when they feel like they can’t go on anymore.
Patterns and themes
In the chapters of our lives, if you break them up in segments of 20 or 25 years and look back, you will find patterns and themes. You find love, you lose love. You lose people in the springtime of your life, sometimes you find them in the fall, or sometimes you don’t, but in their wake, you find new people to rebuild what was lost. You succeed, you “fail,” you change careers, your priorities in life shift with every chapter. You continue to evolve.
Bertol Brecht wrote, “The shortest line between two points can be a crooked line.” Oh boy, I’ve traveled several of those, wondering if I would ever get to my destination. And Jane Pauley explains it in a way that plucked at my heartstrings: “For many, the way forward may feel like groping in the dark, as it did for me. Frankly, we are all making it up as we go along. But how reassuring to know we’re all in this together.”
Hopefully, crooked though the lines maybe, there are the constants—love, faith, hope, friendship, kindness, and that whether you are 17 or 70, you hope and pray that your life is always laced and graced with all of these. True friends keep you afloat, and keep you grounded at the same time. Love, after all, comes in many forms, and kindness always trumps the madness this life can sometimes bring. And so for so long as our hearts keep beating, we’ll keep paying it forward. And we’ll keep on loving ’till we can love no more.
Thanks, Ed Sheeran. I pray that the love I have and will find will last ’til I’m way beyond my ’70s.