“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” — Muhammad Ali
Since reaching the half century point in my life many of my attitudes and ideas have changed considerably. I have undergone radical transformations, many of which are still underway. In the past decade I’ve abandoned many assumptions, beliefs, and ideologies that I had held since childhood and replaced them with new perspectives. I’ve opened myself up to a lot of new ideas and look at the world much differently than I did a mere ten years ago.
It wasn’t as if I suddenly decided to change my life upon turning 50. The first 50 years of my life laid the groundwork for what followed. I’ve always been open to new ideas and different ways of looking at things. My travels exposed me to different cultures and beliefs which helped to shape the direction I would take.
I think that there comes a point in a person’s life when they begin to consider their own mortality, when they reflect on where their life has taken them. They start to question things they’ve held to be the truth or maybe they start to consider what’s further down the road. Maybe the spirit beckons. It’s different for everyone but for most, something instigates a transformation.
I don’t see the world in terms of absolutes — black and white, good and evil, liberal and conservative, left and right, Christian and heathen, Muslim and infidel, Jew and gentile — but as various shades of gray. I see all things that we can perceive in our mind or through the senses as impermanent and transitory. It will all pass and the things that Man has created are probably the most impermanent. Everything we create contains the seeds of its own destruction — our edifices, our governments, our economic and political systems, our societies, our religions. It will all pass but most are too blind to see that. We are blinded by the illusion that we are somehow immune from impermanence.
In many ways the years since the half-century mark have been at least as interesting and enjoyable as the fifty years that preceded them. Take the time to learn, to love, to be kind, to be grateful, to enjoy life, to live. After you’re dead, it’s too late.