"Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen
Today, I celebrate 40 years of life! Supposedly you can do whatever you want on your birthday, so I’m going to tell you how I feel about something. There's something I don't get - our culture’s obsession with anti-aging, particularly in the holistic health movement.
What ever happened to growing old gracefully?
On the one end of the spectrum, you have people who are turning themselves into plastic with surgery and botox. And on the other end, you’ve got the holistic health movement with an unconscious belief that by doing all the “right” things, they are going to prevent pain, suffering, disease and death. Sure, you can improve your quality of life with these tools. I know I have, but you can’t control LIFE with these tools.
My aunt, who suddenly passed away a few years ago, had a saying... “Life is a puckered asshole.” Yes, it is! Sometimes, life is a puckered asshole. Isn’t that the perfect description? Saying it makes you feel good because it’s true.
Other times, life is the opposite of a puckered asshole (whatever that is). Sometimes life is a wonderful experience full of joy.
And that’s why I love birthdays. I am still here. I am alive. I am a creative being. I enjoy bad days and good days knowing that it could be otherwise. From my perspective, lamenting another birthday is like hating your body. It doesn’t make any sense and is certainly not living in a model of wellness.
Each birthday also brings a welcome maturity that only time on this planet can give you. For me that has meant an increased acceptance of life and myself.
I was 36 years old when I gave birth to my son. A few months into motherhood, I didn’t know if it was day or night, or even what day it was. I realized that THIS IS IT. Deep in the trenches of motherhood, in the space of feeling like I had nothing to look forward to, but another diaper change or another fifteen minutes of breastfeeding, I found acceptance.
Some people get stuck in the past, and some people are always looking out to some point in the future when things will be ok or happy. Aging has taught me that wherever you go, there you are, and that is a very good thing.
This acceptance of life is the very reason that I am able to write my book. There is no point in the future when I will have time to write. When you’re young, single and childless, it’s easy to think that you will have time to do what you want in the future. But that is an illusion. Aging consciously allows you to tune in and see what is real – this is it.
I have also taken on a new way of being in the world this year. My new motto is done is better than perfect. I am healing from my father’s constant advice that “practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” No room for error with that is there?
One of my friends used to say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perfect is one of those good intentions. With another birthday, I have been able to let go of perfection. Yippee! Everytime we let go of something that doesn't serve us, we get to enjoy another level of freedom.
Isn’t being alive great? That is what another birthday means. It’s not something to be angry about or cover up with make up. It’s something to celebrate.
So next time you see a grey hair or a roll of fat that wasn’t there before, or your breasts are sagging or you detest your wrinkles, think to yourself, “Wow, I’m alive and get to experience this aging body of mine,” because it sure beats the hell out of the alternative….
So Happy Birthday to me. I bet you can guess what I’m going to go do….It’s time to enjoy a wonderful meal with my friends and family. May you find a reason to celebrate something as well!
Eat in peace, my friends!