The Human 50-Yard Line

Have you begun to notice a change?

IF, you’re a new member of the 50-plus crowd, you’re likely seeing the world from a new perspective. No, I don’t mean just in your peers. I mean in – YOUR OWN – perception of life.

If we are lucky enough to live to the ripe young age of 50, we will experience with good fortune what I have come to know as, the indelible opportunity, to trip over what I am calling, The Human 50-Yard Line.

For years people have made, much adieu – or is it ado? – about what many feel is the near-death-sentence of stepping into the world beyond 50-years of age. For so many this arrival begins a series of conclaves, held right on the door steps to the magic line of Age-50, leading to a steep downhill slide into oblivion. In some minds this timeline is synonymous with a, ‘Stairway to Heaven”, for others, it’s more a, “Straight to Hell” venue.

But, since the average age is now pushed well into the 70s, for both men and women, 50, has become the doorway to Departures Unknown. And we’re not talking the need for the quick acquisition of ailerons or asbestos, either.

These Departures Unknown are new pathways, to new opportunities, not yet experienced. The likes of which, none of us, nor generations before us, could have imagined; back even, as little as 10 years ago. Amazing events and heights of accomplishment await all age brackets, as never before; especially those with the experiences gained through age.

There is, however, another element involved here. One with a much larger part-to-play than we could have ever imagined: The Human 50 Yard Line.

Take note of the discussions you now have among those of your peers; those whom you know to have – tripped over – The Human 50 Yard Line (H50YL).

This trip has become an important life-moment. It would seem this tripping event; quite unlike the tripping event(s) too many of our generation experienced back in the ’60s and ’70s; causes a curious sense of reassessment.  This reassessment, may be just enough to allow an unfamiliar ray-of-light into our consciousness, allowing us to peer through the cobwebs-of-time, into our library of personal experiences.

The trip, for many, is a  first time in our lives event. One that affords a fresh look at, “…what IS important in life.”

So, you may be asking:

  • “What is this ‘trip’, thing?”
  • “What is the Human 50-Yard Line?”

Easily enough the trip – is a life event. It’s likely a life-changing event. Such as

  • The loss or change of a long-held job;
  • News of a potentially lethal health problem;
  • Death of a mate, partner, spouse, close-family member;
  • Divorce;
  • Traumatic event in close-relationships;
  • Shattering of Life Held Beliefs;

Bottom line: the trip is something that rocks our world to its inner core and leaves us wondering, ‘What just happened to me?’ And when we gather our presence about us, we wonder again, ‘Where am I, now?’ We feel as if we’ve been dropped into a new and unfamiliar, hostile environment. One for which we had no concept of, or how to maneuver within.

What we don’t realize yet, is this: There is NO ESCAPE. We are now in a totally new realm, that has opened up in the midst of our previous world.

We are now unwittingly – for some, very unwilling, members of – The World Beyond 50.

The Human 50-Yard Line, is a timeline.

It is a period of time in ones life, taking place around the age of 50-years old. In the past we’ve heard it referred to as the ‘mid-life-crisis’. But it is far more than that. It truly is a period of sudden change in how life appears and flows for each person who lives to this age of life.

The timeline itself is a sliding point.  For some it can actually occur before they reach 50. But for most it falls between 50 and 53.  It’s a curious time in which our life experiences and our body’s mechanics reach a sort of, Nexus Point; a point of convergence; the intersection called, The Human 50-Yard Line. No, this one does NOT show up on our GPS map and it comes with little indication of which way to go once we arrive.

For some it’s a discombobulating skid-to-a-stop at the Intersection of Life Before and Life From Now On. For others it’s more of a head-on collision with LIFE at the same Intersection.

Whichever outcome we encounter, it is largely determined by HOW we lived life up to this point.  We do – for the most part – reap what we sow.  Another of those important guide-posts we ignored on the way to The Human 50-Yard Line.

One can try to hide, but there is no ignoring the reality of The Human 50-Yard Line. It will get your attention, one way or another.

My mother’s favorite saying, attributed to the famous author/humorist, George Bernard Shaw, never made any sense as it careened about the nerve endings of my youthful ears.

“Youth is wasted on the young.”

Every time she said this, and it was often, I wondered what in the world she meant! I always took this pronouncement as an indictment on the empty-headedness of youth. A term I had many opportunities to hear when growing up; though not always necessarily in those exact words. I just figured it was a comment of desperation being made by an older person who was regretting their own loss of youth.

I was wrong.

After tripping over my own Human 50 Yard Line, it became clearer to me. Like a scalding muster of siege oil, the light went on, and for the first time in my life … I understood.

Now, I knew (well at least I had a glimpse!) of what mom meant.

Many of us have said, are saying or will be saying, the line that directly refers to this sense of understanding:

“If I knew then what I know now….”

Though still very physically active and outdoors oriented, I found an odd thing occurring. Unexpectedly, in moments of clarity, my take on life events, changed. New perspectives, I’d never noticed in such reactive manner before, began popping up.

I am a former avid and very aggressive MTB rider. I’ve had many spills in my riding career leading to injuries. I can remember the pain of getting up and continuing on with the ride. Only later finding, abrasions, cuts, breaks and dislocations. But, I was young, dumb and all guts, no brains and gung-ho for the glory of the ride. I didn’t think about the pain. Let alone the results of such body bludgeoning … down the road-of-life.

However, while watching a downhill mountain bike racer involved in an accident referred to, in mountain bike lingo, as an, endo; short for end-over-end. I suddenly – and for the first time in my life – found it very PAINFUL just to WATCH! It was as-if-all of my collective memories from previous spills-contusions-and-bleeding were brought to an immediate realization: “ARRGGH! THAT’s gonna hurt!” Digging into my inner memory bank, this visual suddenly released, a full-on, virtual pain-filled-experience!

I had never experienced this level of awareness before.

I remember the pain, but there never seemed to be that nagging ‘memory’ residual. The one that would normally keep a sane person from repeating such insane actions.

Back THEN, it was all about, “If you take a tumble and get thrown, get back up; get on the horse; and ride on.” True this was generally good advice when dealing with adversity. However, there was no real thought; at least in the shallow-end of that advice; for picking a better horse the next go around. Or, learning to become a better rider, in order to avoid getting bucked off.

It wasn’t until that moment I began looking at such actions and wondering out loud: “What on earth was I thinking? I could have gotten hurt, really bad! Even killed.”

It was then, while watching the pain-filled falls, I finally heard the tiny voice.

The one, when younger we suppressed into the deep recesses of ignorance and bravado . The one that we heard, but conveniently ignored. Now I suddenly realized, why the term, recesses-of-ignorance, is used to describe this most unfortunate of choice-paths.

THIS …is what the crossing, or collision, with The Human 50 Yard Line, brings into a brilliant (painfully blinding!) forefront of life. For the first time, for most of us, these revelations make sense and no longer trigger the – need to be ignored – reaction in our youth.

Oh, so much sense that it’s now painful to see.

Then another amazing thing happens.

I won’t lie. The learning curve is a bit steep when The Human 50 Yard Line is encountered. The main reason for the steepness of the curve? We do NOT prepare for it. So, as the runner who doesn’t prepare and warm-up before a long run, we end up pulling muscles and incurring injuries!

However, in a shorter time-frame than we’d have thought possible, the clarity takes hold and we develop into the next phase of this new era of life.

Grasping it is one thing. Believing it is still another. Dealing with it… well that’s an on-going-life-lesson … still in-play.

Yet, despite our greatest fears of getting old, and becoming afraid of life-in-general, we actually find that we don’t go all over protectionist at this revelation. No, quite uncharacteristically, one finds him or herself, actually feeling energized, if not liberated.

Suddenly, life forces us to slow-down. To look longer and think deeper. To consider our ways. And it’s not at all what we thought – or feared – in youth.  It’s actually pleasant, productive and peaceful.

Gently coming over you, becomes a wash of enlightenment. It’s like an envelope of genuine understanding, that we can actually learn from mistakes. We don’t have to get beat-up-first and then avoid the fist-of-fate.

No! We can take that other turn on the highway of life and avoid that painful crash altogether.  Life can be more about learning and being productive and less about, picking-up-the-pieces.

Amazing! Liberating!

Well! Talk about a “V-8 Moment”!!

There is one sad note here.  It’s not like we didn’t already know this stuff. We heard it; chances are many, many times; but we turned a ‘deaf-ear’ and ignored it. To our own detriment.

We sure didn’t act like we knew it. Did we?

Which gives even more credence to the saying,

“Never complain about growing old, it is a privilege denied many.”

For, if we aren’t around to trip over The Human 50-Yard Line, look at what amazing opportunities we’d miss.

Well worth keeping in mind, passing down and reminding the kids (and OURSELVES!) …every now and then.

Just remember, whether they (or we!) pay attention or not to this bit of wise advice, the Intersection of LIFE and The Human 50-Yard Line, WILL be there to remind all participants.


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