Today is my birthday, I am 58. And I am happy. At 58, my happiness comes from internal factors, not external things. By now, like Anne Morrow Lindberg writes in Gifts From the Sea, I have shed many shells, especially the heaviest most cumbersome of all, ego. I am feeling free from the external pressures of society and its distorted definition of how my life should be.
I really just wanted to post and acknowledge how wonderful this vantage point is in life and encourage you to look forward to it or for those of you already “here” , look ahead with anticipation. I look back on the journey thus far and I see my evolution. I see the certainties I have always known, my core that was there in college as an art student and in my youth. I was in a place of “truth”, a place where I stayed in touch with myself and what I believed.I read books like Lust for Life and kept in touch with “me” through journals and of course, I painted. But, then, I see the detours I took. I consider these detours weakness in my journey – places where I was successfully influenced by external forces and I deviated from my core values.My fault.My bad.
I feel I am back where I belong now and it is comfortable and right, for me. I do, at 58, feel some anxiety, however. It usually manifests itself as apprehension about the future for my children, and your children. I watch them as they go down their paths and hope that, for the most part, their decisions are authentic and come from a place inside of them, a place where it is only their voice, their spirit that they hear; I hope they can keep the noise out. But, I also know that with living, there comes inevitable “lessons” and we all need them so that at 58, we can feel we have gathered enough knowledge to feel, in some small way, that we have “arrived”.
So, today is my birthday and I’m happy. Thank you so much for the wishes; those wishes, those acknowledgments, and you are the “things” in life that, for me, matter.
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.
The sun is out today; it has broken through the gloom and cold and is scattered throughout my house and it is very welcomed. I have enjoyed these few winter days of being held inside, too cold to spend more than a moment outside watching through the kitchen window, but I think a day of sunshine will be especially nice. This morning I am thinking of my 20th birthday, surely propelled by the stillness of the season and my house at this moment. I am there because I am thinking about my dear friend that I spent that birthday with and I am thinking of her because she lives in New York and I always think of her when this extreme winter weather barrels in on her state. These little beads of memory lead me to a painting, a painting I did that long ago of “birthday flowers”. My friend and I were art students in Nice, France in 1974 and on June 29, I turned 20, but no one knew it was my birthday except her. We had NO money but she showed up with a random bouquet of delicate birthday flowers she had bought at the French Market and I did a small painting of them; it still hangs on my wall. I have had 56 birthdays and certainly do not remember most of them, but this is one I am remembering on this cold February day. It is the act of kindness that I still hold dear and although I seldom see my old friend, she is there in my little painting and is there in how I see the world; she was sunshine.
A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.