Musing upon being in one's fifties is, after all, part of a bigger game. As William Wordsworth reminds us, how one inhabits the years -- whether you are 30 or 50 or 80 -- is the real challenge.
To An Octogenarian
Affections lose their object; Time brings forth
No successors; and, lodged in memory,
If love exist no longer, it must die, --
Wanting accustomed food, must pass from earth,
Or never hope to reach a second birth.
This sad belief, the happiest that is left
To thousands, share not Thou; howe'er bereft,
Scorned, or neglected, fear not such a dearth.
Though poor and destitute of friends thou art,
Perhaps the sole survivor of thy race,
One to whom Heaven assigns that mournful part
The utmost solitude of age to face,
Still shall be left some corner of the heart
Where Love for living Thing can find a place.
William Wordsworth, The Poetical Works (1849).
Wordsworth wrote the poem in 1846, when he was in his 76th year. Was he addressing the poem to himself, as well as to the octogenarian to whom it was dedicated? And is it addressed to all of us potential octogenarians, of any age, as a warning, an admonition?