Have you even noticed for the first time something that you knew all along?
Here is one of those awarenesses for me…The first breath you take in life is when you are born. You in-spire, or inhale that first gulp of air. The last breath you take in life is when you expire, or breathe out for the final time. A truly amazing design!
Perhaps I was pondering this because my 62nd birthday is May 31st!
Several have celebrated their birthday around me lately. I have noticed how some people totally embrace their birthday and enjoy every opportunity to celebrate while others keep it top secret, not nearly as comfortable with accepting that they are a year older. They resist mentioning their birthday, and I suspect for some it is because they have not made friends with death.
Although we never really know how much time we have in this human form, we tend to imagine life as a linear thought. We are born, live 80 years or so, and then die, and when you reach my age you realize that the road ahead is likely to be shorter than the road already travelled. To me that just is a fact, but for others there is fear attached as the years seem to fall off the calendar more quickly, or, resisting birthdays could be because some people prefer not to be the center of attention, or another reason might be that they are far better at giving than receiving. Curious.
It used to be that 60 seemed so old when retirement was just around the corner. Now out of need or enthusiasm, people work much longer. I know that my grandkids marvel at the wrinkles on my face and hands, but it seems that people have given themselves permission to stay younger longer. Even if ‘60’ is now the new ‘40’, my body doesn’t quite buy it. It is more weary and just doesn’t have the stamina and speed it used to. I don’t say that as a judgment, merely as a fact. Given the choice, I sometimes prefer just to sit and rest my bones.
And yet even with a few glitches along the way, my body has served me well and gotten me this far. I have ridden motorcycles with Roy Roger’s kids when I was young and drove go-carts in the dessert. I have gotten far more sun burnt than I ever want to admit to my dermatologist. I have bungee jumped out of a hot air balloon, and I have dangled my toes over the lip from atop Half Dome. I nearly drown body surfing and had a near-death experience as a result. I have jumped of a cliff into one of the Seven Sacred Pools, travelled several times to Europe, built forts and wrestled and played with my grandkids. I jumped out of an airplane, and spent hours on the floor playing trains with my autistic grand… sometimes having to restrain him from eloping into traffic. I have given birth to two amazing daughters, spent all-nighters labor coaching other women as well as hospicing my mom and several friends along the way. I weathered a divorce that was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to me, spent hours doing personal growth growth work, took a dare to move to the Northwest, and hopefully have many more adventures to come. But the truth is that we never know for sure our time-line, and so I choose to be as fully present as possible in each moment and as forgiving as possible when I forget. Although there is plenty more I would love to do, the true blessing is that I have no regrets. Good times and bad, I am so grateful to have the life I have.
It is my personal belief that by the time you reach 50, you might as well celebrate your full birthday month rather than limit it to your special day. I seldom read novels, although I heard a novel-loving friend of mine say that when she turned fifty she gave herself permission to read the last chapter of the novel first, just in case she never made it to the end! Some may think this is morbid and lacks optimism. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to at least find the ways to celebrate life (and death) every moment you can. Life it is precious, unpredictable, and the ‘dash’ (http://lindaellis.net/the-dash/the-dash-poem-by-linda-ellis/) in between our first inspire and last expire may be shorter than we imagine. That is part of life, too.
It’s interesting that birth and death are two sides to the same coin. You can’t help but ponder birth without having the thought of death rolling around somewhere in your subconscious, if you are truly honest. No one gets out alive!
Greater happiness is yours when you surrender to what is, celebrate what you have for as long as you have it, make the most of it, accept its loss when the time comes, share generously, live wholeheartedly, laugh often, and dare greatly, focusing on what’s working rather than what’s not.
Happy Every Day,