Today I am celebrating one of those milestone birthdays. Milestones are markers along the highway of life. We pause to build them and note them because they are significant. They show progress and we can say, as we journey, “I am here…this is how far I have come.”
It’s been a wonderful day, spent having fun, connecting with people, and receiving birthday messages and blessings.
From brunch this morning with a dear friend…
…to this sweet birthday greeting from family in another state, my day has been graced with hundreds of celebratory messages. I feel blessed.
I saved this meme that I came across last year, knowing I would be turning 60 on my next birthday. It resonated deeply with me. My thoughts tonight are not a commentary on my looks, but rather reflections on my soul’s journey.
Here I am, at age 16. I am skinny, my hair as yet unchanged by premature graying, my skin unmarked by laugh lines or wrinkles or age spots. I am smiling. However, I remember that day, when this photo was taken.
I was afraid, because I lived in fear. I was anxious. I was ill at ease and uncomfortable with myself…crossing my legs and tugging my shirt down, trying to appear smaller…lesser than…invisible.
I look at my 16 year old self and tears come to my eyes, while compassion fills my heart. She didn’t have a clue, about what was ahead. But she was doing the best that she could. In spite of her personal fears, she had a shiny, idealized view of the world and about people and relationships. The journey ahead would not always be easy, and she would make mistakes, give up on some of her dreams, and hide who she really was, for many years.
However, she had a vivid imagination that sustained her, and an unquenchable thirst for adventure and learning that would eventually lead her on an inward journey of facing her fears, head on. She would learn to accept herself, embrace herself, with a whole heart. I feel deep gratitude for my younger self. The life she lived wasn’t perfect, yet it led her, perfectly, to who she became…me.
This is me today, at age 60. I have silver hair, laugh lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
I know many say, “age is just a number.” I understand what they are saying. I am not defined by a number. However, that number has been hard won, the result of years of journeying and growing and unbecoming, so I could become who I am. I have no qualms about declaring myself to be 60 years old.
At 60 I no longer live in fear. I don’t battle anxiety, worry over things that will never happen, or spend time regretting the past. I don’t have an idealized view of the world, or people or relationships. My heart is at peace with what is, in all areas of my life. I don’t expect anyone to hold my hand or rescue me. I have done that for myself.
My inward journey can now flow outward, and be expressed as freedom to love myself and others, freedom to create my own happiness and not look to anyone or anything else for it, and perhaps most importantly, freedom to be who I am, and allow everyone else the freedom to be who they are.
Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. People are beautiful. My soul is beautiful. I love. I feel joy. I am healthy. I am still learning and growing, still journeying, still playing and creating and discovering new things.
I am 60. And I am singing out, with all my heart, “Look out cause here I come. And I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen. I make no apologies. This is me!”