[Art and poem by Meg Sorick]
Year upon year, stacked like stones
A charnel house full of a lifetime’s bones
Storing regrets and sorrows like ancient tomes
After everything has been said and done
Wars waged and battles won
The same loneliness dwells in a cottage or a mansion
October 21, 1966 – That is the day I was born. I have completed fifty years on this earth. I can safely say I am past middle age. It would mean living to 100. Not completely out of the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely. Although, I do have a great aunt who’s still alive at 104. Anyway…
Do you know what the lead story around the world was on the day I was born? A mudslide buried a school, killing 148 people in Aberfan, Wales. The local Merthyr Vale coal mine had dumped coal waste, ash and sludge to a height of 700 feet. Heavy rains led to the slide and the subsequent burial of the Pant Glas elementary school and some nearby homes. 116 of the victims were children. Horrifying.
Fifty is hitting me hard. I’ve never minded turning another year older. The other milestones haven’t affected me the way this one is. I feel like doors are closing on me – there are things I can never go back and do again. Opportunities have been lost, the consequences of past decisions have now been fully realized. The future is no longer wide open with possibilities, it has narrowed to a dimly lit hallway with doors that have been locked or that have been stuck with paint so they are hard to open. The walls are covered with artwork displaying everything that is now out of reach.
I remind myself of these words of wise King Solomon: A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth – Ecclesiastes 7:1. And I remember that really a birthday is nothing more than a way to mark the passage of time. That, at the beginning of one’s life we have no name, no reputation, no body of work, no achievements, no experiences, no friends and no memories. After fifty years, at least I have all of those things. And though I feel like a great portion of those fifty years could’ve been better spent than they were, time unfortunately does not move in but one direction.
My only option, then, is to move forward down that dimly lit hallway, yank open the paint-stuck doors and take advantage of the opportunities left to me. It just no longer seems easy or effortless. But not impossible.
Header image from owl-cation.