my birthdays get better with time

Posted: March 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

While I was getting my tattoo the other day, one of the artists asked his client how old she was.  Another of the artists spoke up, laughing – “You’re not supposed to ask a lady that question!”  Everyone laughed – the lady in question didn’t mind having been asked, and the original asker said he didn’t think that rule applies anymore to this generation – that this particular bit of politeness is expiring.

I have no idea if he’s right or not.  I know I don’t have the least bit of desire to conceal my age, but I know others my age who don’t want others to know the number, and even my own G told me about saying he was 29 back when he was actually 39, though now he doesn’t care at all that people know this year will be his 50th.

My coworker who cleans my office is turning 50 with me this week; while I’m celebrating with great joy and telling everyone who will listen about mine, he clearly feels like 50 is the beginning of his end.  His grimness about the birthday equals my enthusiasm, no matter how much I prod and push and encourage him to get his happy on.

To each his own.  We all process differently.  I was thinking this morning about what makes turning 50 so good for me, and I wonder if maybe part of it is that my life is finally in order – I’m not rushing ahead or wandering off on some path I shouldn’t be pursuing.

Thirteen is a major mark for a lot of kids because they are official teens – something lots of us just couldn’t wait to be.  I’d mark 13 as the single worst year of my life (yes, worse than my divorce and worse than cancer, seriously), and much was sown in that year that still bears fruit even today, so I’d not want to go back there.

Sixteen is a big birthday because you get your driver’s license and because for many it’s when they get to start dating.  I think I was excited about 16 at the time, but let’s be real – I’d been driving since I was 10 and dating since I was 13, so the magic of the number didn’t have as much power for me as it might.

Eighteen is a big deal because you’re an “adult” in the eyes of the law at least on some fronts.  I recall being glad to turn 18, but I also had figured out by then that as long as I was living at my parents’ house I didn’t really have “adult” freedom – there were rules to follow (as it should be!) and I was not really in charge of my life (I handled that largely by doing what I wanted and lying a lot – not an approach I’d recommend).

Twenty-one is the legal drinking birthday (I will never stop finding it somehow wrong that we can sign up to go die in a war at 18, but can’t be trusted with a beer until 21 – the logic just doesn’t follow.)  That birthday wasn’t such a big deal to me at the time – I recall having a few drinks at the bar with my parents in a very low-key way, but of course I’d been having an occasional drink since my teens, so this was nothing new.

Those birthdays were all fine – not hugely amazing, but fine.  The good birthdays came after.  At 25 I started to feel like I was beginning to know who I was – just getting the first peeks at that.  I took a horseback ride for my 30th birthday to reflect, and even amidst a lot of things being hard, found a lot of good places to meditate.  At 40 I was starting to really become my true self and touching the first beginnings of freedom.

Fifty?  HOLY COW this is awesome.

I know myself at a level I never imagined possible.

I feel like I grow every day in the ability to say what I mean and mean what I say, and I revel in the freedom of transparency.

My relationships are in good order; resentments and insecurities don’t own me.

I know how to talk back to the voices in my head and the voices of my culture, and I understand the power of what I say to myself and how carefully I need to choose.

I’ve got a clear view of the role and purpose of my feelings, and they almost never get to drive the bus anymore.

I’m well-experienced at walking in discomfort without letting it disrupt my joy.

I don’t need folks to think I’m smart or right, and I understand that mostly they’re not noticing me enough to care about having such opinions about me.

I’m at peace with not knowing, which is good, because more and more I see that I don’t know much at all.

I’m willing to change what I “know” when better information comes along, and I don’t get scared or terribly bent out of shape in the process of that shift.

I understand that even when someone is taking a whack at me, it is rarely *about* me at all – that it’s their own deal and I can just feel compassion for them and not step into their pit for the mud sling.

I’ve got crystal clarity on how much I’ve gotten wrong in my past, which leaves me open to the possibility that I’m getting much or even most of it wrong now – and peace with that reality.

I’ve learned to own my skills and gifts and strengths with confidence, not apologizing for them and not needing to practice false humility about them.

Oh, I’ve not arrived.  All of the above are imperfect and incomplete, and the set of statements I’d  have to make if I were sharing about my relationship with my body would be much less sunny.  I’m still a walking collection of bad habits and general weirdness – I’m just okay with it now, as I continually notice how that grows and evolves and gets more beautiful with the passing of each day.

So you hide your age if that’s what works for you.  Be grim about your “big” birthdays if that’s your truth.  For me, I’m gonna keep shouting how awesome it is to turn 50, and trust that if you’re annoyed by it, you’ll turn to another channel.

Blessings, peeps!

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