In your 50s, it’s so much easier to surrender the outcome, and to be at peace with whatever the outcome is
I now understand better why the fifth decade of life is called the golden years.
When you’ve done a lot of inner work in your 40s and excavated all the emotional debris that filled the first half of life with so much drama, the 50s become your golden age. These years prepare you for a more serene sixth decade and beyond. In the golden age, the light shines down on everything that truly matters. You become more discerning and no-nonsense. You have no patience for frou-frou; you say what’s on your mind.
I guess this is why Marie Kondo has such a strong appeal to those of us in this golden age. She models for us how it is to distill, not just things, but everything that clutters our lives—relationships and family members included. Does it spark joy, or does it bring negativity or toxicity? In your 50s, it’s so much easier to “chuck it,” to surrender the outcome, and to be at peace with whatever the outcome is.
A few weeks ago my family and I spent a whole week in Ubud, the spiritual center of the island of Bali. It was my first time there. Immersing ourselves and just being still in a place we had never been was excellent for our spirits. We managed to get a bit of shopping in, but even the exercise of buying things to bring back had become an entirely new experience. Because we had gotten rid of so much clutter in our lives, we became even more deliberate about the things we wanted to bring into our home.
Ubud gave us a lot of time to think about people and relationships, and discern which ones brought peace, sorrow or joy. The stillness always brings so much clarity about what one needs to move forward, and the battles we choose to avoid or engage in when we return home.
Although this stage in life emboldens and empowers you to say no to the things and people that sap your energy, it also imbues you with more tolerance, kindness and patience. Perhaps because you have seen more of life, endured and survived many of life’s challenges, you become more understanding of other people’s battles. However, you also know that you need not jump into the fray of every battle because you need to manage your energies and preserve your peace.
In your 50s, you are caught between caring for children about to leave the nest, and returning to your original nest to care for the generation before you as they enter the twilight of their years. I realize that as I grow older, I have become more protective of my mother, with the same fierceness she showed when she was still protecting me.
The golden age highlights how time moves swiftly, so we must not waste it on things, conversations and people of no consequence. Because time is precious, it must be spent on loving and living well with those who cared for us, and those who bring joy to our existence. We focus on what is essential, who or what makes our heart sing, and when they can no longer remember, we sing the words and the melody back to them. Love is never forgotten. Everything else is noise.