Learn how to live "young at heart."
What I Know for Sure
I'm turning 50 in a few months. Just saying that sentence out loud feels unreal, like I'm talking about someone else. 50! Me?!?
Gone are the days of living to please other people and making judgments about what others should be doing to please me. I look to the future with a bursting desire to be more, love and live more preciously. "I wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now," says an old spiritual. Nothin' for the big lesson I learned time and again in my 20s: Give up your power to no one, especially a man who's shown he cares only about himself. Nothin' for the 30s, which taught me: Own yourself in every way possible, so you never have to sell yourself short or be bought by anyone. Nothin' for the 40s, where I've come to know that becoming more of yourself is the only route to authentic, lasting power.
Take the quote from Carol Matthau in O-to-Go. Put it on your mirror or in your memory: "There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you." That's why it's so hard to reconcile the number of your years with who you think you are. In my head, I think I'm 38 on a good day, and hanging in around 42 on my slowest day. No matter. I know the number is irrelevant. It's what you decide to do with it that matters.
My friend Maya Angelou, who turned 75 this year, told me, "The 50s are all you were meant to be." I marvel at that because, though I've accomplished a lot, I believe the best is yet to come. There's a lot of great work to be done in the world. Whatever your age, I can assure you that it's the best time to go about the business of doing what you were called to do. Whether you're 28 or 88, you've probably stamped yourself with a label. Look at the label that comes with your age, then replace it with one that reflects the reality of your life.
I know for sure that every birthday, you decide whether to mark it the end of your greatest days or the beginning of your finest hour. Your call.
From the October 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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