I just celebrated another birthday. It was wonderful for so many friends and family to reach out and wish me well. To receive the call that includes an off-key rendition of “happy birthday” that always makes me tear up.
Several of the well wishers wished me a happy 39th or 29th birthday. I’m pretty sure they meant the energy, blush and/or form of those earlier years. I proudly told them I was thrilled to be celebrating 43.
Whether or not it makes me crazy, or at least in the minority, I love my birthday and each year it brings. Even the tough ones. Especially the tough ones.
I still have a ton of energy, but now I can hone it on what’s really important. I’m more selective about what that means. I have a perspective that my 20’s and 30’s couldn’t provide. I’m sure in my 50’s I’ll think I was misguided in all my 40‘s profound-ity. And I look forward to it.
In my late 20’s, I remember talking with my grandmother, worried that I had passed up too many relationship opportunities because I was so focused on my plan. I was working hard, traveling, and had a list of things I felt were necessary to experience or achieve before I settled down on my terms.
She shared the story of my great grandmother, born in the 1880’s. She traveled to the United States three times before settling in Santa Barbara. She was 31 when she got married and proceeded to have 3 children. It was a very late age at the time.
When my grandmother asked to marry at a much younger age, her mother told her not to rush. To prepare. Go to school. To live a little. She said:
“I was 31 when I got married. I lived and I didn’t miss a thing.”
My grandmother told me not to worry. She said to live. That things would work out in a way I could not yet see. Like the back side of a tapestry, that looks like a collection of different color threads, but creates an amazing story when you turn it over.
She was exactly right. All the plans and all the worries – my life turned out very differently than I expected, but more wonderfully than I could have designed.
For my birthday, I wish for all of you to be able to say you’ve lived. Not look back on some magical age of yesterday as the one you want to repeat each year. Instead, to treat each year is a new gift, just waiting for you to open it.
I was listening to Sirius XM in the car the other day, and the song “I lived” by OneRepublic struck me as the perfect partner for this wish. I’ve shared part of the lyrics below.
Happy birthday everyone. Whatever day of the year it may be, be sure you can say you lived.
Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived