I turned 62 today.
Sixty-two is not a particularly notable birthday. Parties are not thrown for a 62nd birthday, and no one hides from them like they sometimes do for the “Big 0” (40, 50, 60, etc/) birthdays. I rarely hear anyone say “when I turned 62….” All in all, sixty-two fades into the woodwork. A little more grey hair. Deeper wrinkles maybe.
But all in all? It’s kind of a “meh”.
My day has fit that meh-ness. The love of my life is down in Massachusetts. I’d be there too were it not for a tree that fell down in the back yard (Tree man coming tomorrow) and a set of pipes that has taken up the messy habit of leaking when I run laundry. (Plumber coming when he gets to me.). My daughter works tonight. My son is in Florida finishing his term at college out. So I am having a quiet birthday alone.
That kind of suits my personality. I’m an introvert’s introvert despite all the things I do for a living. I woke up this morning and hit work early and it’s been busy as it can be all day. This evening I’ll move some furniture around in the studio to bring in a work table (actually an old lab bench, I think) my love bought me to give me more room to paint.
All day long, people have been reaching out, sending me e-mails, notes and “Happy Birthdays:” on Facebook. It’s a wondrous thing for me, who lives so quietly, to hear and read so many nice things about myself. We all like to think we’ve touched someone here and there, but to see it, and hear it is humbling and affirming both. It leaves me thinking I haven’t completely squandered my first sixty-two years.
I like Birthdays. I don’t hide from them. I consider most of my 62 to be blessings. And the few that were not were lessons well learned.
Typically, I take the day off and just think. I ask myself questions. What was important this year? What changed? How did I change? What lessons did I learn about the people and the world around me? What did I learn about myself? What did I learn about myself? Where do I want to go and change in the year to come?
I haven’t done a lot of that thinking today. Too much work and too much to do. I’ll take some time in a week or two and disappear and think.
Some of it’s obvious. A year ago I was single, divorced for over a decade. Today I am married. One kid lived with me and one was in DC a year ago. The one that lived with me has launched off to college and the one in DC has moved nearby. I have a cat now.
Some of the change is less obvious, and I’ve been wrestling with that stuff for a few weeks. I am not even sure what “it” is. Just stuff running around in my head. When there are lots of external changes, the inner things change too. It will sort out. Things do.
The woman I love has been after me to take a road trip for some time. She knows that on long stretches of road, my mind sorts through things. I used to travel all the time for work so things stayed sorted nicely. Today I travel less far, less often. I spend less time alone. I am loving it, but she is right, a bit of time staring into space would have some value.
I’d go to the beach if it weren’t summer. One of my discoveries the past couple of years is that I love the seashore. It resonates with me the way mountains used to. Something about all that horizon, the sound of the waves, and miles of emptiness soothes me, calms me, and helps me bring things into perspective. But the beaches are a madhouse this time of year. That will have to wait till fall.
One of the things about change, I have learned (not just this year, but in general) is that it takes time. Time to sort out new routines. Time to sort out the right balance of time and activities. Time to bring balance back.
Sometimes, we resent that. We like our lives predictable. But mostly, I think, it’s good for us. It challenges us. It makes us live more mindfully. It makes us resort our priorities. It keeps us from growing stale.
And I hate stale.
I have a gentleman at my church. He’s 94. I’ve known him for about five or six years. He still works a couple of days a year. He has a woodshop in back of his house and makes things that they sell at the Vermont Country Store. And he reads all the time. I’ve grown to know and love Erwin (that is his name). He handles change with grace. He’s never become stale. He recently lost his wife of over 40 years and it’s been hard as you might expect. But despite the pain, I see him growing, changing. not wallowing in the past, but living.
Living. Nothing alive stays the same. Plants. Animals. People. If we are alive, we are changing. When we stop, we are dead. We can fight change. Resist it. Complain about it, or rejoice in it. Me? I’ve come to rejoice in it, even when it’s overwhelming.
So I have had a lot of change this year. Good. I am, it seems, still alive.