This week marked a momentous occasion– my 64th birthday. Were you humming along? Those of a certain age immediately recognized this classic Beatles tune which continues on to say,
“…will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”
I am delighted to report that I am not yet in need of someone to feed me. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. (Let’s just keep singing, okay?). I am, in fact , thriving; content with my lot in life and grateful that I’m still here on earth to live it.
My actual birthday began with hot coffee delivered by my dear husband, followed by a delicious free birthday breakfast at Good Stuff, a complimentary beverage at Starbucks, a massage courtesy of my friend, Paula, a free dessert from Buca De Beppo and several beautiful bouquets of spring flowers. I was showered with good wishes all day long. By way of the blessing/curse of social media, texts, voice messages, actual phone conversations, birthday cards and meals shared with friends and family, I received birthday greetings from over 100 dear friends in more than 10 states. I am a rich girl. Obvi.
I rejoice in every birthday and have never been able to grasp why thoughtful, intelligent people avoid them like the plague. There is such disdain for birthdays, growing older and letting go of youth that we have become a culture that fails to appreciate that every birthday is a blessing. They mark another year of life we’ve been given-another year to love and live and serve and grow. They also mark a new beginning, another trip around the sun ahead of us. So, why, pray tell, do we view that as a curse and not the blessing it is?
I say it’s time to rethink this whole birthday thing. Instead of wincing at the thought of another year we’d rather not admit to, why not celebrate the fact that we’re still here–the fact that we’ve been given the opportunity to do better than we did before. We’ve been given another year to right wrongs, reconcile division, serve our communities, love our family and friends and share the wisdom we’ve gained. We’ve been given an opportunity to let go of the things that don’t matter so much and focus on the ones that do. It is, in effect , a personal New Year’s celebration. So, let’s stop bemoaning the fact that we have more lines and fewer smooth surfaces on the gloriously made bodies we travel around in. Let’s own who we are and how old we are and claim the blessings that come with aging. Yes, there are many. If you are hard pressed to come up with them, you might need to look a little harder. ‘Just sayin’.
For many years I worked in the Assisted Living field. While there I came up with a theory that something happens to our vision when we reach the 4th quarter of our lives. We look in the mirror but we no longer see the actual reflection. Instead, we see the person we are inside. Hence, 90% of the people who visit an Assisted Living community leave with the same response to their families: “All those people are OLD.” But inside each of those “OLD” souls is a person with hopes and dreams still yearned for. When we dismiss ourselves or someone else because we or they are aging, we fail to acknowledge that there is still a heart beating, willing and quite able to contribute to the world around them.
I am quite blessed to be a part of a faith community that doesn’t merely tolerate the over 50 crowd, but, embraces it and endeavors to utilize the gifts and abilities of those who have over half a century of experience here on earth. Intergenerational gatherings and activities are the rule, not the exception. Young women actively seek out the wisdom and counsel of more mature women who have lived lives, had careers, raised children, made mistakes, maintained relationships, endured hardship and learned their way around the block. I walk with a group of both young and old women every week. Our conversation is always lively, often deep and sprinkled with laughter, counsel and prayer. The older bring life experience and the younger help us olders keep up with current trends, jargon and perspective. It’s a great mix.
When we stop trying to hide our age and instead celebrate it, we are choosing to live more authentic and joyous lives. That doesn’t mean we won’t occasionally look in the mirror and bemoan the wrinkles around our eyes or the awful truth that our chins are multiplying while our necks are disappearing, but, we cannot allow the passage of time to define us. We still have work to do and have been given the time to complete it. Let’s roll up our sleeves and like the woman in Proverbs 31, smile at the future. There’s still a lot of living to do.
As for me, I’m not being fed myself, but feeding someone else this afternoon. I’ll be delivering homemade, hot bruschetta soup to a young family going through a hard time. Because I can. It’s a great way to begin my 65th trip around the sun!