Reflections on turning 40

A few words from our new acupuncturist, Celina:

I just celebrated my 40th birthday last night....and I still feel amazed that this is so. I don't think I have ever stumbled towards a birthday with as much dread and dragging of the feet. I suppose I have a lot of ideas about '40' from all my many years leading up to this birthday....I remember knowing forty year olds when I was a child, a teenager, and they seemed totally out of touch with reality. It really looked like the best was already come and gone for them. These were really lives on the decline, right?

So hard to find myself in relation to all those old ideas about what forty years old would be like. So far, I am realizing they are just that. They are just ideas. And they are old...they haven't yet really been updated. Integrated with what I know to be true. When I actually look around and take in the women I know who are forty (and they make up many of my friends as I am now also........forty?!), these women are amazing. Many of them say that they feel as if they are finally truly arriving at who they really are. Who they always wanted to be. Who they suspected they would be if they lived fully and honestly and dropped trying to please so many other people. Let go of trying to make themselves fit into the narrowed boundaries of other people's expectations. Stopped worrying so much about being pretty and started putting that long squandered energy towards just being more of who they already were. Amazing how much one can grow when you finally stop trying to.

My five year old girl, turning six next month, is beside herself in anticipation for her birthday...she can't wait to be able to say she's a year older. She's very proud of her height and often takes solace in the fact that though she may not be the oldest girl in her kindergarten class, at least she's the tallest. I try to talk her out of this, but it's not possible. This obviously represents something intrinsic and strongly human. The desire to grow, to master, to move forward.

Until...it doesn't. At some point we are really reminded that this game only finishes one way. However sweet and long and full a life is...death still wins. Every time. This is surely there in the back ground for me. This knowing. Of course, life is all about how we deal with the fact that nothing will stay as it is. Change touches everything. And how do we still throw ourselves forward knowing that?

It makes me think of a poem by Mary Oliver that I was given for my birthday...

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 

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