I hit the half-century mark today. I have to admit, this birthday feels different but not for the usual reasons. Dennis wanted to get me a fabulous "milestone" gift -- an iPhone, a supercharged juicer for my green juicing, some sort of gizmo or gadget befitting a major birthday event. Much to his chagrin, I kept saying, "No." Nothing seemed right, or necessary. There is no material thing I want or need, certainly nothing I equate with reaching 50 years old.
I think it's because this birthday calls for something much harder to grasp and impossible to buy, a new perspective, perhaps, rather than a new phone. In the not-so-distant past, my birthdays were cause for what I called the "Birthday Triduum," not one but three full days of celebration. If my birthday fell on a Friday or Monday, even better because the Triduum could include an entire weekend. Now I'm not sure I need even one day to mark the event. And it's not an age thing. I long ago came to terms with the fact that it's downhill from here in most departments. Maybe it's the notion of turning point. It seems as though 50 years presents a nice, self-contained package of sorts, something to be archived in the basement. And today I'm unwrapping a new, empty box just waiting to be filled, but with what?
My grandmother, who still lives on her own, will soon mark her 100th birthday. As I have said time and again in recent months, if I've inherited her genes and determination and strength, I get to live my entire life over again from start to finish. What would I do with another half-century of living?
I don't want the rest of my life -- however long I get -- to be only a time of fading, even though part of me welcomes that idea. (I'm continually threatening to live like a hermit in my basement office, but then I have to lead a Girl Scout meeting or drive one of the girls to dance or speak at a Catholic gathering and that idea goes out the window.) I think whatever comes next should be a time of growing in the important areas of my life, as a spiritual seeker, as a wife and mother, as a human being, and maybe in some of the less serious and more fun areas as well, things I haven't yet had a chance to try but have always wanted to tackle.
Now I'm off to blow out some candles. Anyone have a fire extinguisher?