My mother would have said, once upon a time, that my birthday didn’t begin until 5:36pm, the time I was born. But at some point that’s just splitting hairs (or hours) and I’m just as much 41 now as I will be 15-some-odd hours from now (or 16, seeing as how I wasn’t born on EST).
In any case, I was thinking earlier today about the line in the Dylan song, My Back Pages, (“Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now”) and how when I was younger that didn’t make much sense but now that I’m of an age I once would have considered at least older (if not old), it’s completely logical. So many things that I held on to so tightly, that bothered me so much, that perhaps I would have died for — imagine the angry old man waving a shotgun from his front porch — are things over which I today shrug my shoulders and move on. There are slights and heartaches and disappointments and even devastations but, overall, if anything the months between 40 and 41 (and definitely the years of grit accumulated under my nails since moving to NYC) have left me less likely to take things so personally. It’s true that 99% of the things that happen (even the things that happen involving me) having nothing to do with me. Once you let go of the idea that the world is your responsibility it becomes a much more enjoyable playground.
I feel younger today than I did five or ten years ago, and I probably look it too. (Except, sadly, for my breasts. Gravity is immune to any of these rules. I’m hoping my neck holds up as long as possible in honor of Nora Ephron, but if ever there’s money for plastic surgery it will go to a breast lift and tummy tuck, in that order. There’s only so much a positive attitude and a gym membership can do vs. Father Time. But I digress.) I’m happier. Actually, I’m just happy, period, independent of whatever befalls me. I have love and friendship and grace and a thousand smaller blessings that exist amid all manner of misfortune that may (and probably will, and often does, since that’s just my life) come my way.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sometimes it’s enough just to still be standing. And I am, despite falling aplenty and frequently not knowing whether I’d be able to get up, just that if I didn’t I’d be disappointing myself in some irreplaceable and irreparable way. (Have I mentioned Raging Bull is my favorite DeNiro movie? There’s a reason…) I didn’t do it alone, though at times I was lonely. And it wasn’t all terrifying, though I’ve often been scared.
I’m optimistic about the years ahead, but for now I’m merely looking forward to tomorrow: a day of work I love, followed by an evening with someone who puts a smile on my face. There’s not much more to ask for, save for that plastic surgery… and that would just be gravy, what with all the grace floating around.