On the Occasion of My 45th Birthday

I woke this morning to the realization that, given the state of current medical technology, I have very probably reached the half way mark in my life. Cut me some slack! It’s my birthday, and I can have a rare instance of optimism that it is only very probable and not a certainty. Mind you, the final couple of years may not be too memorable for me, but neither were the first few, so I figure it all evens out.

I’m feeling a bit introspective today. Overall, I’m delighted with the first 45 years. I mentally complied a list of the highlights on a long walk today:

My Parents: I could not have asked for two more incredible parents. It would be nice if my dad was still here so I could talk with him, take him to dinner, and watch him laugh at me over his grandsons’ antics. Nevertheless, I’m amazingly fortunate that I still have my mom with me. Furthermore, they made my life so incredibly easy. They made me feel unconditionally loved and secure, but didn’t make me the center of the universe. They gave me a blueprint for being a decent human being by being decent human beings. Their marriage showed me exactly what to look for in a spouse and just how incredible the institution can be, and made me unwilling to accept anything less than that.

My Education: I don’t use my degrees on a daily basis, but I will never regret the time I spent in school. I had the opportunity to read amazing writers, think new thoughts (some of my own invention!), and discuss them with some brilliant minds. I’m really glad for those opportunities, and I know they permanently changed me for the better.

Travel: I haven’t begun to see every corner of this planet, but I’ve seen enough to give me some perspective on life on this perverse little dirt clod floating in space. Mind you, I’d love to travel more, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ve seen some amazing and thought provoking sights.

My Spouse: Let’s face it: you can’t keep up a flawless front through three years of dating, a year of wedding planning, and fourteen years of contractual and religious bondage. Eventually, the other half has to see the spider veins, c-section scars, Medusa-like hair. Far worse, he has seen the dark moments when I’m small minded, can’t see the good in anything or can’t see beyond myself. Despite all of that, he thinks he made a good choice. Wow. No, think about that again. Wow.

My Three Sons: Yes, they’ve made me want to sit in the middle of Costco and cry. Truth be told, it’s happened on too many occasion to count. You know what? That crazy behavior is what happens when I got the healthy, clever children that I kept hoping they would be. So, boys, keep driving me crazy if it means you are growing and thriving. (And, for all the times I’ve encouraged you to read more, don’t start with this post.)

My Pets: I’ve been fortunate to have the companionship of many loving and loyal furred or feathered friends. You either get this, or you don’t. In either case, I don’t need to say more.

Friends: I seriously doubt that I’m most people’s cup of tea. I’m opinionated, and, well, I’m me. Somehow, in the course of the last 45 years, I’ve come across a  group of truly fine individuals who genuinely care about me. What a wonderful thing.

So, overall, I think that, if I didn’t wake up tomorrow, I’m delighted with the time I’ve had. And, ideally, isn’t that the test by which every day should be judged?

That said, I’m feeling pretty confident, maybe even a bit cocky at four o’clock in the afternoon, that I have a pretty good chance of waking up tomorrow. Given the odds, I’ve got a few things I’d like to work on in the next 45 years.

Drink Less Coffee and More Water: I’ll start with the easy one. If I can’t get it done in the time that I would normally be awake, it can wait till tomorrow.

Worry Less: If the last 45 years has proven anything, it is that most things work out. Even when the really bad stuff happens, like waiting for your father to take his final breath or losing a child, you survive. You aren’t the same, but you may in fact be a better, more compassionate person. More importantly, worrying didn’t change one thing about the bad stuff.

Rely a Little More on Something Bigger than Me: Here, I’m not talking about God  or a formal religion, or maybe I am? I don’t profess to know all the answers or even a sizable portion of them. However, I have noticed that things are better with love and compassion. Moreover, when acting out of love and compassion, it feels like everything is connected in a bigger way. And, referring back to the previous paragraph, things tend to work out. So, maybe I should just rely on that a little more, and a little less on me.

Take Time to Enjoy Stuff: This one is beyond obvious, and yet I goof it up every time. I love to swim, hike, ride, do yoga or just walk the dog. Playing board games with my kids is fun. I want to learn to play the piano, at least as well as my boys. I’ve got untouched tubes of watercolor paint and enough stashed yarn to knit a slipcover for Sacramento. Don’t ask me about unread books or blank journals. Just volunteer to make the dozen boxes it will take to move them to the next house.Yet I don’t take time for the simple things that make me happy. Why the heck not?

So, that is the plan. Check back with me in 45 years to see how it worked out.