Wow, I’ve got a birthday coming up this week, number 57. Boy, has that got me thinking. It’s not one of those memorable benchmark days like “Sweet Sixteen”. My Godparents threw me a basement party that year. On my 18th birthday I was old enough to vote, and just a few months from being able to legally buy beer in my home state of Michigan. It only took lawmakers six years to realize their mistake, and change the legal drinking age back to 21.
My co-workers at the television station gave me a surprise party on my 25th birthday. I still have the now tattered paperback copy of the “Joy of Cooking” book set I received as a gift. I don’t remember who it was from. I do remember crying during those early morning hours after everyone had left. I could blame the rum and cokes I’d had that night, but it was really the frightening realization that I was half way to 50, and a quarter of a century old. Back then I thought life must be all downhill from 25. So, what are my thoughts now on the threshold of 57?
I’ve been told I look younger than my years. That’s comforting. More importantly I suppose is how I feel. Most days there is a youthful energy throughout my body. I’ve learned to breathed deeply, and enjoy the feel of not just oxygen, but the force of life itself throughout my cells.
Some call the body the “temple” of our soul. It’s a divine gift that I admit often abusing. I’ve overworked it, submitted it to yo-yo diets, and even cursed it for clinging to too many of the calories I consumed. Despite all that my body rarely complains, and continues to give me it’s best effort.
On some days I do get unexplained aches, my joints are occasionally bothersome, and I still have trouble touching my toes in a full forward bend. But, I can swim 20 laps, walk four miles, and kick up into a headstand. Still, I am aware that my time to use this God-given gift is running short.
I certainly don’t think I’m old. Every year my marker for old age gets pushed further back. The years have brought some limitations on what I can do. I respect that. I’ve discovered there’s usually a healthy alternative for many of my limitations. For example, I no longer have the stamina for the extensive night life I enjoyed in my youth. Now, I cherish the early morning hours as a time for contemplation, meditation, and planning.
I still have some “growing up” to do. Hopefully, as my physical ability and appearance continues to change over the years, I will find the maturity to embrace it as a wonderful part of my life’s journey.
I’m looking forward to well wishes from family and friends for a happy birthday. Even as I prepare to celebrate this birthday, I hope there are many more to follow. When I think about my feelings on turning 57 one word comes to mind, grateful.