Thursday, October 7, 2021

Today I am 57 years old.

I woke up at 5:30 and wrote down my dream (school field trip, bus ride, secret password) and then came downstairs to find a big popup card that Tom had made for me, plus the mildly disappointing news that the Cardinals had lost their Wild Card game.

And now I am sitting on the couch, drinking my coffee and thinking about being 57.

I've always loved my birthday, that delightful feeling of having a special day to myself, a day that floats, the friendly wishes and signs of affection. But as I age, of course, the birthday also becomes a reckoning. I flip back through this blog and find a history of myself on my birthday: what I'm reading, what I'm struggling with, what I'm hoping for. Even without examining that written record, I'm aware of the day as a marker. What have I done? What does it matter? How much more time do I have left?

I'm not actually fighting doom-and-gloom here, though those questions sound as if I might be. Oddly, as I get older, I find myself feeling less and less anxious about "doing something important" or "being the best" or "making a difference." Those all seem like a 35-year-old's terrors. On the island of 57, this castaway is mostly pretty contented with the fruit she can reach. A body that works. A mind that craves words. A dear partner and lovable sons. Sweet friends and family. Flowers blooming outside my window.

This morning I'm going to endure my exercise class and then clean the house. Then I'll walk to the market and buy steak for what might be our last firepit meal of the season. I might make myself a cake, but also I might not. I won't edit today, but I will read the Iliad and do some writing. In the evening I'll listen to a baseball game.

A mild-mannered, semi-solitary birthday celebration, designed for a 57-year-old poet.

it’s time for me to practice
growing old. The way I look
at it, I’m passing through a phase:   
gradually I’m changing to a word.  

--from "Passing Through," by Stanley Kunitz

I leave you with a salad, made from my father's beets and my own autumn lettuce and marigolds. This is the beauty of my season.



nancy said...

My 64th is coming up soon. I agree totally about the contentment aspect. Life is pretty sweet here on my island despite the sometimes disagreeable realities of an aging body and mind : )
Happy Birthday!

Ruth said...

Viewed from my middle 70's, I'd say life keeps getting better in so many Surprizng ways.

Splendiferous Birthday to you my dear friend!!

Dawn Potter said...

I do love being alive!