I remember, dare I say it, some twenty years ago when a friend turned thirty. I had called to wish her happy birthday and the next thing I knew she burst into tears distraught that she was getting old. We got the gang together, had a few drinks, yukked it up and helped her feel better. It was a moment of fear and one that passed for her. I have to say I didn’t understand her fear then and can’t recall ever dreading a birthday because I was getting old.
Some birthdays are just another day in the week where you have to get up, go to work, do the laundry, exercise, and so on. Most certainly don’t have you feeling any different than the day before. In fact, I remember asking my mother who was approaching fifty at the time how it felt to be that old! Only now can I appreciate her answer, the same sentiment repeated in the movie Last Vegas by the character played by Michael Douglas. “My body may be nearly fifty, and even acts like it,” said my mother, “but in my mind I’m still eighteen.”
Some birthdays are fun, memorable and seem to go on for weeks. It’s all about the party, the friends and the family, the love shared, and the stories told. Maybe it’s even about the gift that you’ll never forget. But then you hit a ‘big number’ like 50 and that makes you stop and think.
Here’s what struck me: if I live to be 100 then I’m halfway through my life. The first half was filled with growing up and unfortunately out, with athletics, the fear of things known and imagined – most of which never happened, great love and devastating loss, change, children, family and friends. Will the second half be any different? Other than the fact that the coming years will be marked with decline, hopefully closer to the 100-year mark than not, I think it will really be more of the same.
Yet I’m excited about the next half of my century. It’s starting off with a bang. I’m celebrating this birthday in Hawaii. I spent the day of my birthday in Ko Olina and as we were leaving read the plaque that said Ko Olina meant ‘place of joy’. How appropriate. It was a joy for me to be by the sea, shoes off, listening to the waves. Later in the year I’ll be getting married, again, and moving, again. Then it’ll be about setting up my Reiki practice, again and before you know it Christmas will be upon us, again. Lots to be excited about.
What has me most excited is that I can see that none of what has gone before means anything. It’s just life and life changes and happens again and again. So my gaze is shifting from the outer world and moving over to what really matters, what will never change, age, or leave me. I’m coming to realize that my inner world is of supreme importance. Within me is an endless well of joy, love, compassion and peace. These qualities, when utilized to the maximum, will sustain me when my body no longer does. I have decided that I will be the old lady in the rocker that laughs and smiles all the time, happy with whatever and wherever I find myself.
I can’t tell you exactly when I decided that but I’ve felt a change coming. So that begs the question, how to find those qualities in me when life is throwing stuff I don’t like? Ok, well, I’m working all that out. Follow along with me if you like, I’ll be writing about it. But here’s what I think I’ve got so far, and feel free to use for yourself or challenge me on what I’m suggesting.
Forgiveness is big – and it doesn’t matter if the issue is small or large. What happens in the outer world is just a projection of stuff I’m making up in my head.
God is bigger – and with faith I can trust that He is a loving presence that only wants the best for me. So when things go wrong I need to forgive – me, it, them, Him – and retreat back to His loving presence.
Practice is necessary – because I don’t want to forgive some stuff, yeah most stuff, and I can hardly believe that I am worthy to be in the presence of the Divine. Or that I am a holy and divine being.
Unity is key – because we are all one and whatever I do for you I do for me. And when I bring you up we all benefit. We rise together.
My age, like everything around me, will change. What never changes is the thing I cannot describe, or fully understand, at the moment. I just know that I won’t find it in the world around me. What I can, and will do though, is use that world to help me dig deep and pull up the divine qualities that lie deep within me. They are the ones that will erupt with joy, love, and peace.