I found myself euphoric the morning I woke on my birthday when I turned 50. I didn’t expect much of a fuss for this seminal decade, since I didn’t plan it; my kids were too young to organize it and slow death by poison might be preferable for my dear husband, rather than plan some event, for me.
So a party was out. I’m not that much of an organizer myself. Once, when I turned 30, I arranged a dinner in a restaurant for my friends and I. Most of these women, just stared at me wondering what do I do when I asked everyone to part with a piece of wisdom they discovered by crossing the great divide between young adulthood and middle age. Suffice it to say that the blank faces grew more animated as advice poured forth with the consumption of Dutch courage. I cannot remember a single pearl from that night. I can barely recall their faces and only Dianna, Helena and Les’ names come back to me.
At twenty I was in the throws of a passionate affair with an older man. My birthday, I’m sure, was celebrated but for the life of me I can’t recall any of it.
And at ten, I was hiding from bullies in school during the weekdays, reading The Little House Books, and attending Self Realization Fellowship services where I learned to meditate, on Sundays. Truthfully, when I look back on the teenage years that followed, I can credit the practice of yoga with keeping me from self inflicted expiration, before my time.
40 was the year my sisters planned to meet me in MTL to celebrate with me. They didn’t. So I grew jaded about the decades and what it all signified accept that I was lucky to still be drawing a breath.
That changed the morning I turned 50. I woke with a sense of euphoria that had me feeling as if I was levitating. I have no idea now, nor had I then, how or why this glorious state of being naturally high came about. It just did. I was. And it lasted for 6 months. Now perhaps an endocrinologist would diagnose a minute drop or increase progesterone, oxytocin or estrogen. Or a complete balance. Either way I had a significant change in mind and body that still occurs on my birthday. It’s as if I’m receiving a divine gift; or somehow figured out the internal switch to flip for happiness. It’s a great feeling, and I wouldn’t swap it out for anything. OK, maybe this week's 649 at $35 million.
This year the phone started ringing sometime after breakfast. My 93-year-old mother, my sister Annette and brother Paul serenaded me. Then it was sister and her husband also singing into the receiver.
While I was in the shower my girlfriend Tammy called and she too left a musical telegram on my answering machine. Phone calls continued. My girlfriend dropped in bearing a basket of gifts and my daughter, Lisa pulled out a bag stuffed with tissue paper, of her own.
What a great day. What great gifts. To be cherished, to feel that one real thing; is priceless.
Now as I sit her sweating out the remnants of youth, I look forward to flashes of insight with each wave of heat. Lighter clothes and lighter thoughts because you just can’t sweat the small stuff. Actually, the happiness is there, wedged in between the fuss, bother and worry. Small joys, that go unnoticed. Like waking up at 5:30 and not worrying about the loss of sleep. Counting the hours and recalling how 6 hours of shuteye used to be enough, once. Feeling the day stretch out before me with all kinds of possibilities; baking something special; or writing undisturbed when the house is quiet. Watching the sky lighten over the park as the sun creeps over the horizon. And if all those ideas seem like a load of wood on my shoulders by 2pm then if I’m home, I’m down for a nap.
What ever happens now is my time to enjoy it, or not. At 53, for me there is only now.