A few years ago I watched in bemusement as a group of strangers speculated about Cathy Hay on the Internet. My perceived character, my work, even my age was up for discussion.
Luckily, someone had hard intel to share on the last point: “Hay is in her fifties,” they declared.
Well, I’m delighted to announce that that person is finally correct now, since I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this week. 😛
It’s at these milestones that we tend to look back and forward. In the last ten years we have become a world that can no longer look itself in the mirror without a complete rethink, and that’s not unlike the transition that a person goes through around the age of 50.
I have begun to question my world and myself more than ever before, now that I have a few decades of perspective. I have questions that go right back to the beginning, and questions that go all the way forward to the end.
Just as I hit 40 I was setting up home on my own and trusting that my little business would be stable enough to support me. Ten years on, the little business turned out, but I also became immersed in a popularity contest that I don’t remember signing up for. Ironically, it worked to my benefit, until it didn’t. What I discovered about myself in the aftermath set me on a new course.
Everything that has defined me – my work, my identity, my wardrobe, my country of residence, and even my physical body – is in a process of transformation. Nothing is left unquestioned. And it’s here where the deep, terrifying, and transcendent healing work of a lifetime is happening for me.
It was in my mid-40s that I discovered that ageism doesn’t begin in your 50s or 60s. That was a surprise, and it leads me to speak up. Being willing to share wisdom and experience, irrespective of age, is a contribution to an evolving conversation about what’s possible as we grow older, and what we have to offer younger generations. We may not always get it right, but we have a responsibility to continue to take part.
During this time of my life, I’ve developed relationships with those who are a few steps ahead of me on the path of personal transformation, and I’ve discovered just how rich is the journey ahead. “There can be a perverse pleasure,” says Sharon Blackie in her stunning memoir Hagitude, “in insisting on flowering just when the world expects you to become quiet and diminish.”
It’s true: Hay is in her fifties, and on the path to true authenticity. While some of the journey is travelled in solitude, companionship is also welcome. Join me, and we’ll venture forth together.