Earlier this week I hit a “milestone” birthday. Sixty-five is a big deal. No matter what the pundits of Hollywood and sellers of youth would like you to believe, it isn’t the new 40 – or even the new 50. Mortality, even if 20 or 30 years away, is obvious and undeniable. Your bones know it, your head knows it, your face and hands know it. Wiser? Maybe. Or more likely just better “street tested.” Your outward vision is much younger than what stares back at you in the mirror.
I don’t know about you, but once I form an idea of something – how I would like something to work out – my vision becomes so strong that moving away from it is like walking away from the actual reality of it. Makes no difference that everything has changed – my heart still wants to somehow shape the present into that original future vision. That vision persistence can be useful when trying to reach some goals. But in other situations, persistence isn’t the solution and sometimes you simply have to change course. And like the forces on a ship’s bow when it begins a turn, the process of changing course can exert enormous internal pressure to stay on the original tack. I’m fighting that pressure these days.
I am not who I expected to be at this point. I have not achieved anything near what I hoped. I am not as healthy as I should be emotionally or physically. A part of me still thinks there is some “great thing” that I was meant to do or be and that feeling discounts everything I attempt. I don’t know where those pressures came from or why they continue to dog me. I do know they leave me exhausted. I’m trying to lay them down, to give myself space to just be who I really am – warts and all. I’m not the best at anything – not even at being myself. But I hope I can begin to improve on that at least.
As a person who has dealt with depression for much of my life, I know the true power of counting blessings. I know that, despite how I feel, I am blessed beyond measure in many ways – and I struggle and fight daily to keep those blessings in the forefront of my thoughts. I am glad to see 65. I love and am loved. I am grateful that my health is reasonable, my brain still functions, my limbs (for the most part) can get me here and there as needed.
While life gets reshaped in unforeseeable ways, learning to bend into it can be its own kind of blessing. Each reshaping has the possibility of bringing unexpected joy and wonder into our lives. Sixty-five is a big deal. I’m truly grateful to have seen this birthday.