Yesterday was my 60th birthday, and I am here to report that after years of searching, I believe I may have finally hit upon a way of thinking about aging that doesn’t make my insides curdle, and find me staring at the ceiling in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.
I think I have actually hit upon a consoling metaphor that makes me feel happy about taking one more trip around the sun.
And it is actually that very idea of “taking another trip around the sun” that has captured my imagination.
Here is the thinking that is making me feel happy: Everyone is born on some random day on this pretty blue marble. It spins in space around the sun, with us on it, and when it gets back to that random date where we started, we have completed one year and have a birthday.
On that day we get to pause, and if we like, kind of “assess” the ride. Like getting off a roller coaster and going, “Whew! That was, (fill in the blank): exciting, intense, exhilarating, frightening, nauseating, etc.
Every year has its particular ups and downs and ins and outs. Within each year there are times of quiet and times of turbulence. Since this roller coaster ride lasts a whole year, lots of different things can happen.
But when it slows down as it nears the “born on” day, the starting point, you get a chance to get off and think about the ride that just ended. You get a chance to look around and see who shared your ride: those who shared most of it, or only parts of it; those who made the ride more joyful and more interesting; those who made the ride easier and more comfortable, and those who made it a bit more difficult.
And this is what I have been doing for the past few days: assessing my ride, taking inventory.
So here is this year’s assessment:
I am healthy and vibrant and full of energy. My relationships are amazing. I get to do work that I not only love, but feel is the work I was put on this earth to do.
I feel loved and valued and appreciated by all the people who have shared this year’s ride with me. I cannot think of a single person who has made my life difficult in any way.
This has been a sweet, sweet ride. I feel not just happy, but ebullient. I want to get back on the ride and go again!
Can we please go again? Please??? I want to take yet another trip around the sun. If I make it, this one will be my 60th go-round. Some people don’t get to go that many times, but I’ve been lucky enough to have had lots of rides. And I want many, many more!
I want a chance to experience ups and downs and ins and outs and backwards and forwards and fast and slow and easy and hard and happy and sad. Can we please just go again?
And can all the people who have made this year’s ride so amazing and wonderful and joyous, can they all come too?
The other night I paused over my candles, took a big breath in, closed my eyes, and made my wish. As the smoke rose from the candles, I took my seat, strapped myself in, and prepared for yet another trip around the sun.