So here I sit, on the eve of celebrating my 20th anniversary of being 40 – or as most people would say – turning 60. 6-0. S-i-x-t-y.
– Hello, how are you?
– Fine thanks, I’m 60.
How the hell did I get here already? Even my sister acknowledges that it’s a big number. She also assures me I’ll get over it. I’m sure she’s right, even if I can’t fully articulate what it is I’ve got. I understand that the alternative is untenable – so untenable in fact, that perhaps that’s my issue. I’ve lost my sense of infallibility. I’ve exited that period of my life (which lasted a very long time) where it feels that everything goes on forever – and I’m a part of that everything. Tom Stoppard writes that one should “[l]ook at every exit as being an entrance somewhere else”. Sounds right – I am just a little uncertain about opening that door.
Of course, if we’re fortunate and healthy and inexplicably blessed, we all enter phase after phase. And no beginning is without its challenges; it takes an effort to move from childhood to adolescence, adolescence to young adulthood, young adulthood to middle age, and so on. It’s that ‘so on’ part…
I still dance with an abandon that embarrasses my children. I still cry at romantic comedies, clap for Tinkerbell and keep my playlists relatively current. I was never known for being a night owl, so there’s been no concession there. Perhaps it takes a bit longer to heal if I’m unwell, but I have much more confidence that I know how to take care of myself. I don’t do ‘mom’ jeans. I’m still in search of the perfect lipstick, blush and the eye cream that really does wonders.
Perhaps that’s it – I still believe in wonders. In fact I think I notice them more than ever before. Wonder in the breath of the wind, the intangible, unbreakable connections that tie me to those I love. Wonder at how much more meaning my days have now that they have fewer requirements to dilute the attention I might give to the sun on my face. And while I marvel, I also realize how tightly I am holding onto this life. How much I love the moments as well as the spaces in between, when I breathe in the absolute sweetness of being a part of it all.
I guess I’m going to charge right into sixty, because that’s the door that is open to me. “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer” (Zora Neale Hurston). Whatever this year turns out to be, I know it will hold its own wonders. And I’ll be clinging just as tightly as I always have.