ON TURNING 50
I’ve given a lot of thought to having turned 50 recently. I sometimes tell people it was a bad decision to turn 50, that I should have remained in my 40’s, but now that I’ve stepped into this new decade there is no turning back.
But it’s not quite like that. Consider Windows updates. Now and then when I log on and connect to the Internet, an annoying yellow shield appears as a tray icon, indicating there is some update I must install. If I click on the shield, I get an explanation that these updates will install “while I work,” that I can “express install,” which is “recommended,” or I can “custom install,” which I haven’t yet dared to do because it is labeled “expert.”
I must install this update according to Microsoft, who is God, and the maker of my computer’s operating system. It is a given. It is the Word.
During these updates, my computer will be sluggish and uncooperative for a while. Certain programs won’t work up to par; they will be like sore muscles or stiff joints, body parts that won’t do what they’re supposed to do.
If I ignore the yellow shield icon long enough, and deliberately not install the update, the update will install itself, whether I am sitting at the computer or not; so long as the computer is turned on, the update will install. No please and thank you. This is it. You are turning 50 whether you like it or not. The calendar is moving.
But consider this: My computer will flash a warning that it will now restart immediately and that I should save my work and any unsaved work will be lost. What about these restarts? Does it mean I get a second chance? Does it mean I get to wipe the slate clean and start over? If the computer restarts every time I get an update, does that mean the update is a chance to start life anew, to seek new pathways, to–imagine this: starting a new career, changing one’s name, going on a long trip, remarrying, relocating, reviving one’s wildest aspirations?
Not so fast. The restart is just a chance to rest. You wake up after a restart with the same crap you went to sleep with, the same stupid programs you installed yesterday, the same files you’ve been working on for weeks, months, and years, and wish you weren’t. Most of the temporary files are there, too. And don’t be fooled by that “rollback” feature. Everyone knows that doesn’t work.
So what can I conclude about turning 50? I have enough complaints about it to have filled this document and few positive observations to report. The actual day of my birthday was as depressing as bad weather, and the days that followed were no improvement. I willingly installed the update and don’t like the results. So I’m pouting. I’m bullshit at Microsoft, though not making any direct complaints, because I’m not exactly certain Microsoft exists.
I think I know what I can do about it, though. The answer is really quite simple, and I’m already doing it–everyone is already doing it–everyone enslaved to Microsoft, that is. I did it this morning, and I’m beginning to feel a little better, I think. The answer to turning 50 wasn’t to try to roll back into my 40’s in denial, or bury myself in depression, but simply to go on and install the next update, and the next update, and the next. I must remember that slowing down in my middle years means only that I am taking my time–it is my time now–and whenever necessary, I can restart, start the day anew, open the windows and take a deep, slow breath.