10 things to do before you turn 50
You've sensed the black bunting
and cruel gag gifts dead ahead, the cheerful semi-surprise party
of well-meaning younger friends and commiserating older ones who,
like you, have decidedly mixed feelings about hitting the big 5-0.
The very least that can be said in favor of reaching
the half-century mark is that it carries less angst than the big
3-0, less sting than the big 4-0, and certainly beats the alternative.
After all, you've accomplished far more at this point
in your life than at those previous traumatic milestones. Chances
are you've found love and married (perhaps more than once), you've
raised a family (perhaps more than one), you've settled on what
you're going to do when you grow up, and you've probably cobbled
together enough assets to make retirement a real possibility.
Love, family, financial security -- what's not to
like about turning 50?
Well, the downside is that one of these mornings you're
going to wake up and actually be staring at a 50-year-old in the
The big 5-0, as everyone who has hit it will tell
you, is the physical milestone. Somebody cranks up the gravity,
makes all the print tiny and turns your favorite foods against you.
Your doctor becomes a nag. Your clothes start shrinking. And you
forget, but not selectively anymore.
Any day now, that AARP card will arrive in the mail
and you'll be officially old. But that doesn't mean you have to
go gently into that good night -- not by a long shot. After all,
you're a baby boomer. You were born to be wild.
Here are the top 10 things you need to do before you
greet the big 5-0:
1. Get lost
Looking for a personal mantra as you prepare to tee off down life's
back nine? How about this one: Habits kill. By now, you may have
seen more of other parts of the world than you've actually seen
of your own hometown because you've been a good little Pythagorean
and mastered the straight line between A and B and never got beyond
But now is the time to get lost, at least metaphorically.
Take that road you've never taken. Go to work by bus instead of
train. Or get really radical, and walk somewhere. Mix it up. And
be sure not to plan too much. It takes all the fun out of it.
2. Use the good china
Who doesn't know the frustrating feeling of watching our parents
or older relatives deny themselves the pleasure of using fine china,
linen, silver and other great things in life? Don't go there.
If you've got the good stuff swaddled in bubble wrap,
locked away for safekeeping or displayed in fine glass cabinetry,
pull it all out right now. Find the orneriest 3-year-old available
and together build a ridiculous lunch of peanut-butter-and-banana
sandwiches with SpaghettiOs on grandma's finest. You'll be grinning
3. Visit the wonder window
Been a couple decades since your kids were born? Need a double shot
of wonder with that latte grande? One of the best free shows on
earth is available at the maternity ward of your local hospital.
Just drop in and stand at the window.
There's a wonderful charge from being in the presence
of newborns, especially when we're feeling the tug of our own mortality.
If you are a parent, it can put you in touch with all the reasons
you brought your own kids into this world in the first place. That's
a pretty nice place to revisit.
4. Lose the locks
Anthropologists are trying to isolate the gene that makes human
beings cling against all reason to the hairstyles they had when
they bought their first car. What's sadder than a 40-year-old man
with a mullet? A 50-year-old with a comb-over or a ponytail, that's
At 50, it's time to lose the locks. Guys, give your
boyhood barber a farewell tip, find a stylist half your age and
get short and modern. Ladies, the '70s called and they want their
long hair back. Go bobbed, go gelled, go asymmetrical, go crazy,
but go short. You both will look 10 years younger.