Today is my 60th birthday. Throughout the past few months I have experienced a slow, burning sense of dread about becoming this old. Feeling keenly the paradox of finding life in and of itself a pure win, and yet at the same time feeling inextricably trapped in a nightmarish scenario of decay and irrelevance.
Strangely, yesterday and today I have been covered in a sort of calm. It’s a new feeling, not intense or forward in my thoughts – but instead, running in the background like a maintenance program. I have not experienced anguish or lament at reaching this landmark birthday, but rather I have been feeling a general sense of peace these days. This is new to me, and unexpected.
I am a vain woman, and it would be silly to deny it. But I am also an insightful woman. I counterbalance my vanity with the awareness that I am vain. (Not that it gets me off the hook entirely, but I offer that by way of partially absolving myself of that distasteful character flaw.) But as things feel from where I sit in this moment, I care less than I have in the past. Sure, I don’t want you to see me in full light with a great lens, but if you do – it won’t slay me anymore. Cuz my turn at youth is up. I get it.
It’s not as if I won’t still play the game – I’m still a vain and insecure person – so I’ll play it alright. But somehow, today, it doesn’t feel quite the same. It just doesn’t feel that critical, that urgent. I’m 60, not 40. Not even 50. Nope. I’m older. And it is what it is.
To tell the truth, what I’m feeling is a sense of freedom.
I don’t believe an outlook can truly change in an instant, or on some landmark day, and yet I can honestly say that I’m feeling differently right now than I would have expected. Feels kinda like I just don’t wish to hold myself accountable to standards that I simply can no longer meet. You know, the physical ones. Cuz things are different now. They really are. In just the past three years I’ve felt a decline. I can’t fathom cleaning up my five-acre property the way I did in the past. It’s beyond me now. I can’t reset the stones and hardscape like I did a decade ago. I’m not confident about cleaning my own gutters anymore. I know that I’ll never ride a motorcycle or handle lines on a sailboat again. These things do kinda break my heart, but I also know that I’ve had more than anyone’s fair share of great experiences. I can move along without regret.
My son is on his way to China for the next four months, a dream of his come true. My mother and brother live next door, and I am doing relatively ok. I’m poor on paper, but rich in life. I have a handful of dear friends whom I love, I have a beautiful baby grand piano and a huge picture window which faces the distant hills. I’ve got it good. So I’ll just take what I have and hold it dear.
Thank you, mom, for bringing me into this adventure, and for giving me everything I needed to make this life a pretty good one. I hope I’ve done the same for my kid.
Happy birthday to the spring babies of the family, Elihu and me.