12 Random Thoughts On My Birthday

I had a birthday yesterday. It was a Monday. Though Mondays impact the kind of celebration one has, they are as good a day as any to celebrate the opportunity of having circled the sun one more time. To my fortune (our traveling in a 585.6-million-mile orbit) I’ve gotten to ride on our lovely blue planet around our sun for a total of approximately 45 1/2 billion miles. That’s a great many miles to have traveled and a journey for which I have enormous gratitude.

I did have a terrific dinner with my family last night, but during the day I didn’t do anything of particular note except that, unlike the bluster of several past birthdays, I did sit on the deck with a pot of tea for quite some time. Notebook in hand, I looked down at the creek that runs past our house, listened to the enthusiasm of the woods, and instead of making one of my usual list of tasks that need to be addressed, I decided to write a random list of things that I am becoming more certain of as I age.

I know nothing about having become “wiser” as I have become older. Quite the opposite, I have a humble feeling that – considering the unimaginable distanced I’ve traveled – that I know very little about very much at all. I do know, however, that I view the opportunity of living with a great degree of reverence and that some of the following observations may resonate with others.

12 related and unrelated thoughts about life cobbled together on my birthday.

  1. In my attempts to feel accepted and to gain a sense of security and a feeling of control in my life, I have sometimes set aside some of the more rewarding aspects of what lies within all of our natures – those that prompt a sense gratitude, openness, and curiosity.
  2. As my body has aged and as I have sometimes felt betrayed by this process, it is becoming helpful to let go of a focus on the everyday workings of my body, my health, and the changes in my physical abilities. It is becoming more helpful to shift my attention away from an outer life and those things I was once able to do and to an inner- life and the potential that is waiting there.
  3. I look around and sense that despite the losses we all experience in life, that I often seem to live in denial of the impermanence of things and therein overlook the gratitude and appreciation that can be found in every moment.
  4. Since there is no certainty in life, no ground that remains steady, the beauty of life is found by letting go and exploring life despite fear, not for the sake of finding, obtaining, or accomplishing, but rather the joy of doing.
  5. We have a life-long need to feel that we are known, not for what people see because of their needs, or because of our desires to be accepted, but known for who we believe ourselves to truly be.
  6. As a species, we seem to be losing our connectivity to the natural world. Reverence for, empathy towards, and being in nature is the greatest gift we can give both ourselves and our planet.
  7. We are not “diabetics,” “hard of hearing;” people with “bad knees or backs.” We are not “alone in the world,” “much older than others,” “lactose or gluten intolerant,” “over-the-hill,” and any other of the labels often describe ourselves as being. In addition to the labels we frequently give ourselves as we age, there are real dangers in accepting the identities that can be found in physical limitations, illnesses, and the social circumstances of our lives. Seeing oneself as an “old person” or as a person with an illness or disability, etc., builds barriers to a future life of growth and fulfillment.
  8. I and everyone I’ve ever known has become more skilled at whatever we’ve practiced. Unfortunately, we frequently practice thoughts and behaviors in the realms of fear, doubt, hesitation, resentment, guilt, and anxiety. The terrific thing about a consciously driven life is that we have choices and that our skill sets can begin to change in any one moment.
  9. My propensity to look at the shadows of life as potential threats, (an inherited species-survival instinct I’ve learned) instead of searching for the positives, the good news, the light, has done more to harm me over the course of my life than almost any other behavior.
  10. Despite all I know – all we know – about the impermanence and the challenges of life, there seems to be a natural tendency to feel we shouldn’t have problems, a perception that has the potential to make the process of aging much more stressful. As we age, a sense of entitlement can lead to a sense of being betrayed by our bodies and therein feelings of being a victim.
  11. I’ve lived, in recent times, in a world of delusion regarding the appliances in our house – believing that our dryer has been at the heart of my clothes feeling too tight, when indeed – while finishing up the rest of yesterday’s birthday cake – it suddenly struck me that it has more likely been the work of our refrigerator.
  12. Birthdays and long space journeys are irreplaceable gifts.

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