The Beauty of Birthdays

My co-worker had his 33rd birthday today, which means he is just 6 months older than me. We often talk about how getting old is the pits. We commiserate about being tired all the time, getting fat and other age-related discomforts. I admit, I love to bitch and moan with people who share my woes. It comforts me to know that I’m not alone, and strange as it sounds, it bonds me with others. And I love bonding with people, even if it is over misery.

As much as we complain about being “old” in our 30s and missing the days of staying out past 8 p.m., I do of course realize I am not really old at all. And although I do like to talk about the good ol’ days of my 20s, I am happy to report that my self awareness is growing with each passing year. There are things I am noticing about my life and myself that I didn’t in my 20s. If I had to sum up this blog entry, I would say that I’ve learned that life is overflowing with beautiful moments, both life-changing and mundane -there is something to love about every day. Fortunately I don’t have to sum it up (haha), so here is my non-abbreviated entry listing 5 things that get better with age:

1. Kids. I was never a fan of kids until one entered my life 20 months ago. Now, I am a convert. Babies and young kids are pure God. They are genuine and true in every sense of the word. Their every intention is pure. Even in their brattiest tantrum-throwing moments, they are not behaving maliciously – just true. They notice and appreciate everything. They are in awe of the most ordinary things. They don’t have any pre-conceived judgments – they are a clean slate. Bonus – they are freakin’ hilarious!

2. Letting go. It seems I’ve been letting go of something different each year. Burdens like superficial anxiety – how much I weigh, how many friends I have, the brand of clothes I have, how much money I make – those worries occupied my energy and brainpower for much of my teens and twenties, but they are mostly in the past now. Most recently, I’ve learned to let go of the need to control everything. With a full time job, a husband, a kid and two dogs, I have had to choose a few things that are most important to me and let the rest go. Side jobs, volunteer activites, organized sports I really never liked, and household chores have all taken a backseat to spending time with my family. The most important part of relinquishing control for me was to also let go of the guilt. Guilt is an incredible weight to carry.

3. Awe. As a self absorbed young person, I wasn’t often sufficiently impressed with anything outside my own little world to experience awe. However, it seems that in the last few years especially, I’ve noticed a very spiritual connection with nature.

I was in Hawaii for the first time last January. We had a beautiful view of the ocean from our balcony. On our first day, as we were enjoying a cocktail, I spotted a humpback whale breaching. He was so close I could make out the shape of his mouth, and after he dove back in the water, his tail came up and splashed the surface of the water, just like you would see in a nature show. I was so excited I jumped up and shouted out. I could not believe my eyes. Then I literally cried because it was so amazing. That feeling I now know was pure awe.

4. Acceptance – of myself and others. Although I am still not as confident in my self and my life choices as I hope to be in 10 years, I am much more so than 10 years ago. At 23, I was very anxious about my career choice, my relationship choices, and my physical self. I was always worried that I needed to change and improve…that whatever I was doing was not good enough. I have accepted and made peace with my looks, my occupation, my lifestyle. I will always try to better myself of course, but I am mostly content with where I am and who I am at this moment.

I have also become more accepting of others. In my 20s, I was so self-absorbed that every weird, rude or annoying thing other people did was disdainful to me, and I was certain people did things just to bug me. I’ve now learned to not be so hasty in my judgements. I’ve been through and been witness to experiences that have helped me understand why people sometimes do the things they do. Because of those experiences, I am better able to empathize, and understanding and compassion become more prevalent than disdain.

5. Good health. Health is so esy to take for granted when you’re young. I realized quickly how lucky I am to be in good health (and for the good health of my loved ones) when people I was close to started getting cancer and dying of heart attacks. I don’t recover from a tough workout as quickly as I did at 22, and I certainly don’t have the metabolism I once did, but my body is still amazing in the way it heals and repairs itself. I am so grateful for that.

We have a birdfeeder outside the front door where I work. Two finches just did something I’ve never seen them do. They took turns hovering in front of my window as if they were trying to get a look at me. They did this about 5 times each, then one of them landed on the door handle and just looked at me for a few seconds thoughtfully before they both flew away. Neither one of them ate any bird seed. It’s as if they were coming just to see me. It’s moments like these I feel connected to God, nature, the world. And it is awesome. I probably wouldn’t have noticed something like that 10 years ago. Yay for birthdays!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 20:05:49

    Great list of five things…but maybe a sixth is in order: Observation. Without refined skills of observation, you might easily have lost sight of the other splendid five!


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