Happy Birthday to Me!

I remember when 40 seemed so far off, as if everything I ever wanted to do in my life would have to be done by then. I still meet people (young people, I could say now in a granny voice!) for whom 40 is the goalpost, not the center line.

I love my life. I am more free than I have ever been, more sure of myself and my work, more honest every day. My body is stronger and I am more in it, less prone to disassociation and overt or covert methods of self-harm. My mind is clearer and the tools I have to work with it — writing, yoga, meditation, intimacy — feel more and more potent. I am more grateful for the world every day, despite its problems and injustices. I am in awe of the brave, powerful work of the people I meet, whose commitment to learning and creating change might waver but, collectively, gives me great faith. I am bowled over, humbled, by the creativity with which we respond to the conditions of our time.

I have been thinking that the opposite of black-and-white thinking is not shades of grey, but the whole rainbow. I don’t feel jaded or cynical, most of the time. I feel new, and in love with the magic, the full spectrum, the unnameable things that make up our glittering, daring world.

If all goes well I have maybe another 40 years ahead of me, in this precious life. I have no fear for the future, nor do I have regret. I’m excited. As far as I can tell, I have not wasted a minute of the past four decades. Although I have been confused, fatigued, lost, cruel, and full of rage or sorrow, I have also been loving and beloved, ecstatic, brave, triumphant, generous, and occasionally wise. I have found life wildly satisfying, well beyond any plans or goals I might have set for myself early in life. I could not, at 15 or 20 or 25, have imagined these blessings.

I have ideas for the years ahead, but I want to hold them lightly. Projects, metaphors, directions to lean into — one step at a time, one doorway at a time — yes. But as for serious life goals, a big plan, a bucket list? Whoever has planned my life so far has done an awesome job. I’ll leave it to Her.

Me, I’m making no plans.

Thanks to Gina LaRoche for sending me this photo of a sculptural creature designed for the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.

8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me!

  1. The best is yet to be, dear friend. (Trust me on that, spoken in a black church lady granny voice!) Beautifully articulated center-of-life thoughts. Happy birthday, every day.

  2. Minal my dearest,

    Thanks for the lovely note, gives me courage for the moment when I turn 40, which is not too far away! Still think about your sweet gentle words to me in Goa. Happy birthday woman….have a great one! Lots of hugs….

  3. Happy birthday, my friend. Thanks for trying out 40 just a little ahead of me and for waving your arms and shouting, “Jump in! The water’s fine!” I feel like I’m breathing a little better now. I can’t wait to hug you!

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