Hooky & “The Big 5-0”

I never told a soul.  Far as I know, no one knows.  Till now.

Back in my college days – some three decades ago – I decided to cut classes one morning and head for the beach instead of the books.  It was one of those bright, balmy, eighty-degree days for which San Diego is famous.  Sapphire-blue, sun-soaked.  Postcard-perfect.  Especially for playing hooky.

I didn’t plan on bailing out of Western Civilization and Physical Anthropology 101.  But I found myself chugging down the I-8 in the exact opposite direction of Mr. Asmov’s lecture hall.  To put this in context, it was one of two days I “played hooky” in my entire scholastic career.  I’m more of the “nose-to-the-grindstone” type.  Steady.  Responsible.  Reliable.  As impetuous and impulsive as a gimpy snail in a molasses factory.

So why did I suddenly decide to do something as utterly uncharacteristic as spend a gorgeous sunny southern California day at Point Loma, a peninsular seaside community separating San Diego Bay from the Pacific?  I’m not entirely sure.  Maybe I was tired of being “responsible and reliable.”  Maybe I was in a rut and wanted to stir some spontaneity into my schedule.  Maybe I wanted to “carpe diem.”  Seize the day.  Instead of the other way around.

It was a day worth seizing – wading, beachcombing, sand castle-building, tide-pooling.  Soaking up some rays.  Lunching under swaying palms.  Sucking in huge chunks of salt-spiced sea spray.  (Okay, I also finished two essays, a book report, studied for exams and updated my Day Planner to a year out.  Nobody’s perfect.)

Know what I discovered on that hooky day at Point Loma?  Playing hooky is fun.  Delicious.  I don’t remember diddly from most of my lecture notes or Day Planner, but I remember that “hooky day” like it was yesterday.  There was something about seizing the day that was… soul-stretching.  Refreshing.  Recharging.  Energizing. Effervescent.

I loved it.

It’s official.  Today I turn “the big 5-0.”  It feels weird.  Like I should feel …. different somehow.  Older.  Wiser.  “Mature.”  Whatever that means.  On one hand I feel I’m way too young to be that old.  I mean, my mom was fifty!  On the other, it seems my half-century status is supposed to result in pearls of wisdom and sage sagacity.  Kind of like a modern Oracle of Delphi.

Kristine LowderTruth is, I’ve never gotten the hang of that oracle thing.  Most of what I’ve learned and gleaned in my five decades isn’t all that earth-shattering: Put God first.  Honor your parents.  Love your spouse.  Hug your kids.  Work hard.  Serve.  Eat chocolate.  They say “you’re only as old as you feel,” which probably puts me somewhere in the Sesame Street demographic.  Also, “age is all in your head.”  Or hair.  Or hips.  Or… joints?

But like I was saying, “the big 5-0” feels weird.  Like I’m suddenly fair game for the other half of that famous “Titus 2” equation.  Well.  I’m not exactly turning cartwheels over that “older woman” bit.  There are still plenty of other “olders” out there, thank you very much.  And if they’re real “olders,” I’ll pass.

Maybe you know the type.  They rehearse their daily litany of moans and groans, aches and pains with the regularity of day following night.  They’ve kept records of all the people who’ve wronged them over the years.  They’re gonna get even one of these days.  Or they spend so much time resting on their laurels and looking back at “the good ‘ole days” that “carpe diem” would give them whiplash.

These are the folks who take life and faith dead serious and you better too, bub, if you know what’s good for you.  Wait a minute. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the Geritol crowd, is it?  Some things transcend age:

– Comparing kids, outfits, income and accessories so the other person always gets short shrift

– Mammoth-sized me-ism

– Excising “I’m sorry” from vocabularies like it’s malignant

– Crammed closets compensating for shallow souls

– External busyness hiding internal barrenness

What did the Lord Jesus say about this?  Plenty.  But an almost-fifty year favorite is John 10:10b:

“… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

In other words, carpe diem.  Seize the day.  Reach out.   Get real.  Laugh.  Apologize.   Live your life rather than a knock-off version of someone else’s.  Hold hands.  Play hooky once in a while.  Grab your kids and scarf down that second banana split, guilt-free.  (If you can’t find your kids or don’t have any, borrow some.  Jesus did.)

While I’m hoping the cost of cake candles doesn’t break the bank this year, I have some regrets from the past 18, 262 days.  Some shoulda-woulda-couldas.  But I’ve never regretted that hooky day.  Don’t tell anyone, but I sometimes wish I’d taken more.

A few things I can tell you from my perch here in the middle-age rafters is that raspberry white chocolate cheesecake tastes better when it’s shared.  Lucy and Ethel in the bon-bon factory deserve an Emmy.  Toothpaste can’t be squeezed back into the tube.  It’s amazing how much less I know at age 50 than I did at 18.  Family, faith and friends matter most.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  And while sapphire-skied, sun-soaked days are perfect for playing hooky, carpe diem is for every day.  Life’s too short not to.

***

Back to our “regularly scheduled program” next time.

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7 Responses

  1. […] 50 tomorrow and I am too busy at the moment to reflect, and I liked HEvencense reflections here:  Hooky & “The Big 5-0″ Happy Birthday […]

  2. Great essay! Oh, and you look great, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  3. Great essay! You do look great! I really enjoyed reading this. And thanks for sharing these pearls of wisdom from an older woman in the faith. I’m only 4 years behind you. 😉

    Love,
    Penney

  4. Hi Kristine!

    I turned 50 this past September. Loved your post! Found it through Christian Women Take Root.

    Hugs,
    Cheri

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