Glass Half Full: Enjoy your birthdays
Glass Half Full
My 69th birthday is this week — the last year in my 60s. How did this happen?
Make no mistake: I am grateful to be alive in this beautiful part of the world; to have a job that is challenging and rewarding; to work with people I respect and enjoy; to be a part of this invigorating community; to be healthy; and to have family and friends who light up my life. Retirement is just around a year’s corner, and with it will come plenty of time, I trust, to explore and enjoy all of the aforementioned blessings. And yet, I have to laugh at the arrogance of youth, of which I apparently had plenty when I was one. Clear and wrinkle-free skin, a lithe body, agile mind, and (let’s be honest), the confidence and ability actually to run up and down stairs — who knew such things should never be taken for granted?
I’ve always understood the blessings of health, always celebrated birthdays, because I am keenly aware that so very many people will never experience the blessings of old age. “Old age.” I’m not quite ready to use that term for myself. I know that I am getting old, but that is not quite the same thing. My father used to chide my brothers and me when we would refer to ourselves, in our 50s, as “middle- aged.” He wondered if we really expected to live to 110. No, probably not.
At those moments when I speed shuffle across a street, I remember thinking that I was never going to be one of those people. Parents of young children frequently comment that their children are growing up way too fast. Sometimes I want to say, “Look in the mirror!” But I refrain.
I can remember my mother noting her surprise to see her own mother looking back at her when she looked in the mirror. Now it’s mom looking back at me. We watch our children grow taller, stronger, more mature. We have walls against which to draw lines to mark increasing height with indelible ink. Perhaps we should be registering our own shrinking stature? I’d rather not.
I want to do this growing old stuff with grace and dignity. I don’t feel old, more somewhat diminished in terms of the speed with which I can do things. And, let’s face it, I’m not as likely to take the same kind of physical risks that I used to. Falling down can have greater consequences than it used to! What I refuse to do is give up and to think I am old. Ever, I hope. Age is not just a state of mind, though surely mind over matter, well, matters.
So, happy birthday to all of us who are rounding out decades in our lives. May we always have the grace to appreciate who we are and what life continues to teach us. And, may we never take for granted a year, or even a day.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.