So today is my birthday. And for all that I’ve written before about aging gracefully and not giving in to the pressures of society’s standards of beauty, etc., I found myself not looking forward to this day. This is the first birthday I kind of didn’t want to celebrate because it’s the first time I feel old. Older. Like I’m standing on the hill. But it’s really just the number that’s offensive to me. Nothing else about me or my life makes me feel old. Well, ok, besides the fact that I have grown kids and that my boyfriend likes to tease me about our age difference (although I remind him that he’s the one dating an old woman). And I know how the sayings go…age is just a number or you’re only as old as you feel…but I find no solace in those quotes. At some point, the number gets pretty large and I already wake up hurting some days. So I kind of got caught up in the number this year. Fretted a bit about it and worried about whether I’m looking my age. Or acting my age. And then I got over it. Mostly. After all, I’m more of a language gal than a number person. I can’t let a double digit get the best of me. And I really am rather grateful I’m still having birthdays. Plus I’ve got this cool thing happening where I have some awesome people in my life and good things going on. And this birthday reminded me of that. Today I got over 80 birthday wishes on my Facebook page. Maybe that’s not a lot to some, but it was to me. And yeah, Facebook makes it easy to post a message, but it doesn’t make it mandatory. So more than 80 people like me well enough to give a shout out. That was cool. And I got presents and cards at work! Candy and coffee and dessert popcorn, cookies and cards and even sparkly bracelets. Oh! and safety glasses to go with chainsaw my mom is bringing me tomorrow. At home I got breakfast in bed this morning from my girls. And yesterday I got an early present from my boyfriend who made me dinner (yum! I’ll never get tired of that) and then gave me all kinds of goodies for relaxing in his whirlpool tub. Which I did.
So I’m older. And today it felt pretty good. I’m grateful for the people who make my life and me feel special. I’m thankful to be able to forget about the number most of the time and simply look forward to what’s next in life. Like the following poem from Samuel Ullman.
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.
When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.