11/10/2014 04:08 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

This Is What 50 Does

I've been soaking up time.

I can feel the red of a maple leaf turning. I can catch sight of a baby's smile from across three aisles in the grocery store. I can luxuriate in sliding the zipper up on the sides of my new, slinky, black boots.

I'm on high alert.

I can hear the holiness of a guitar, appreciate the molecular structure of water and understand the meaning of a piece of art, without formal study.

I can feel the texture of minutes passing, gritty sand falling through the narrow center of the hourglass.

The night that I turned 30, I sat in a bar feeling distraught. I was out with my husband and his sister and brother-in-law, wallowing in my utter disbelief that I was not in my twenties anymore. Finally, my brother-in-law looked me in the eye and said, "Amy, it's no big deal. Time passes."

His words shut me up and rightly so.

But time past was still a jolt, a hand on my shoulder in the groggy morning whispering, "wake up."

It was a shallow, ridiculous terror-thinking that 30 was old. But it was also only a symptom of a larger mistake -- a misuse of time.

Like an unappreciative lover, I used it. I got things done and marked off accomplishments. Time was only a means to an end. And somehow, on that night when I turned 30, I knew that this was missing the mark, and that my obnoxious, whiny 30-year-old self was actually on to something.

Clarity is what surprises me most about the sixth decade. Though time is fleeting, there is no need for distress. Instead, I can know that in each moment, I fully lived.