Tuesday, 16 May 2017


“Woke up this mornin’
’N I was fifty seven...

Said I woke up this mooor-ooorrr-nin’
’N I was fifty seven...

Not sent to hell yet…
Not made it to heaven…

I got those what does my birthday mean bluuuuu-hooooze…..”

While in his prime, that supreme athlete, prophet and all round wonderful guy Muhammad Ali famously said that age was a state of mind. As he struggled through the mighty challenges presented by Parkinson’s syndrome, he kept his smile, his personality and his philosophy of life intact.

On a less testing and more personal plain, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last six years.

Life in your fifties is a very mixed bag. Just as TV ads seem to encourage women to parachute out of helicopters and go white water rafting during their periods, we 50somethings are coerced by an endless torrent of super-healthy white-teethed mini-celebs to go out there and seize the day, because apparently the 50s are the new 30s.

Don’t think so.

In my early 30s I arrived in Galway City, fully believing my partying days were behind me. City pubs, Salthill clubs and an excellent team of reprobates who lured me into local life put paid to that.

Dancing my 30something arse off at night I felt no pain. First thing the next morning I’d pummel Salthill Prom at high speed, enjoying a sad kind of pride in the way nobody passed me.

A few years later I moved to Connemara, where I wrote, walked, exercised and walked some more. Push-ups, Tai Chi and three walks a day.

Admittedly, the final one was to and from the pub.
I’m only human.

Of course there were injuries. I hurt my foot and it got better. When there was strife in my family, my back gave way, leaving me crippled and crumpled, but then I recovered.
If I tried to be as physically active in my 50s as I was back then, I’d be in a right mess.

One thing hasn’t changed for me. I still don’t care about the numbers, apart from those pesky 6s. When you’re 46 you’re nearer 50 than 40, and 56 hit me the same way last year with 60.

Hmm, yes, have to admit: 60 is starting to flash up in front of my eyes these days.

After singing my birthday blues, I took my blood pressure pill and an antihistamine, because the dry weather and wind are creating storms of pollen.

Then into the kitchen followed by Lady Dog, looking for her morning peeper and her breakfast. I take a horse-sized omega 3 capsule, which I down with whatever’s left of last night’s pint of water, and off we go for a wander.

After breakfast I swallow one of the probiotic capsules I started taking last winter, when I had a chest infection. They’d cured my IBS overnight, so I still do one each day.

By 9:30, when I arrive here in my office, I’ve got more pills in me than Evergreen, and most of them are prophylactic.

Save your emails, pen and paper, because I truly don’t want to know what works for you. I will not drink your green juices every morning, nor offer up my Spirit Wolf to The Demon of the Stream.

Believe me here and now when I say I’m truly glad you’ve found the way, your way, your truth and the clarity to see the light in all matters healthy and wholesome.

Well done.
If it’s all the same to you, I’ll continue to plod along, creating my own gentle swathe.

One of the great blessings of my life has been the continued existence of a group of friends who’ve all known each other since school. We live our separate lives, but stay in touch as and when we want, and when we meet or talk there’s that unique wonder of not having to explain yourself.

Hence a few years back there were a heck of a lot of 50th birthday parties. Since then, it’s been interesting to see how we’ve all adapted to our new age.

By ‘age’ I’m not referring to precise numbers, just that part of your life, which tends to coincide with 50, when injuries become conditions.

All of a sudden the doctor’s not offering pills or suggesting x-rays. She’s just telling you straight. Nothing she can do. This is something you’ll have to learn to live with, a condition you’ll have to manage, and it’ll probably get worse.

Thanks doc. Think I need to think about that.

Anyway, I don’t want my 50s to be like my 30s. I want them to be like my 50s, because I now enjoy 20 years more experience and learning than I did back then.

Of course life still presents massive problems, but I’m more aware of my weaknesses now, more able to understand my emotions, and better able to control how I deal with them.

One of that group of friends took pleasure wailing down the phone to me that the 50s were the beginning of the end.

Moaning with melancholic delight about the inexorable decline of our bodies, our journey lethewards, he said only oblivion awaited.

Er, yeh, thanks mate, but no thanks, all the same. I’m happy to be the age I am.

Even if I can’t dance without ripping a muscle, I have way less pain in my soul than there was in my 30s, and when it demands to be faced, I aim to have the wisdom to deal with it.

Anyway, truth be told, we’re none of us the adults that children imagine us to be. As a boy of seven, I’d look at man 50 years older than me and wonder how incredibly in charge of his life he seemed.

If only I’d known then that we all spend a lifetime making it up as we go along.


Martin scott said...

Happy birthday Charlie. Hope you had/have a great day. Currently in Canada visiting relies who've retired in their 50s to bucolic splendour, so thinking a lot about life/meaning/best use of remaining years...have come to conclusion that conclusions unnecessary: muddle on, be nice to yourself and your dear ones, and do things you like when possible. Cheers!

Charlie Adley said...

Thanks Martin - had an excellent day. Completely agree with your sentiments - although I might say 'as much as' before possible' rather then 'when'. I'd love to visit Canada. Enjoy your stay and thanks for reading my blather. Cheers!