We mark our lives by counting the years since our birth. Birthdays, we call them. I’ve never found any meaning in them. I don’t need a marker to know my body has aged. Or that the ratio of lived days to days remaining is constantly changing. On the other hand, I’m not averse to an excuse for a party either. Perhaps I’ll saunter down to Matt the Miller’s Tavern for a nice rye Manhattan this evening.
I’ve found that one of the hardest things about aging is the realization that some doors have closed. I no longer have the same options. It’s too late to start certain careers or projects. It’s too late to expect certain things from your body. On the other hand, certain other doors open. On a net-net basis, perhaps it’s a wash. But on certain days, it doesn’t seem like it: it seems like more doors are closing than opening.
The thing I appreciate most about aging is my new-found freedom. I don’t have to drag myself into an office if I don’t feel like it. I don’t have to fly around the country or world trying to fix problems for clients or help employers make more profits. I don’t have to worry about paying bills. I feel freer than I have at any time in my adult life. That helps compensate for some of the closed doors.
But, of course, for some of us, there has to be purpose. I’m not good at doing nothing for extended periods of time. I’ve got to have a mountain to climb, a long journey to bike, a goal to achieve. I wish it weren’t so. I wish what I experience as the mundane weren’t mundane at all. For some, it isn’t. I envy them.
I don’t know how many birthdays I have left, Vera. Perhaps decades worth. Or perhaps today is my last one. There’s no way of knowing. That’s as it should be. It helps keep us on our toes.
I nearly didn’t make it to this one. Some people find meaning in that. I don’t. Perhaps I should. But I don’t. I’d need proof. Evidence. There isn’t any. It’s not that it matters one way or the other in any case.
The only thing that matters is whether I contribute something to the world and am happy. I am.
Is the contribution sufficient? Perhaps not. But who’s to say. I don’t worry nearly as much about this as I used to.