More sky, at sunset, called by my son “a gleaming peach.”
There are many June babies in my family, and today it’s my turn. My mom is destined to call and say, “Happy anniversary of the day of my pain and suffering,” which is meant in jest, as well as her customary, “Happy twenty-fourth anniversary of your twenty-fifth birthday,” which is meant in earnest.
Mom always used to say this to my aunt: “Just remember, Pat, no matter how old I get, you’ll always be older than me!” This zinger always brought on the laughs, but at some point and over time, is must also have brought on some sobering introspection for the zing-master, recipient, and everyone within hearing range.
I’m the oldest sibling in my family, and my creep toward that universally dreaded number that separates youth from middle age, I’m sure, has started to give us all pause. (“You mean I have a child who is almost fifty years old?” This, from both of my parents.) I’m long past the point where birthdays are fun, and not yet to the point where they are funny, so I guess that leaves me with in a spot for some R and R.
I don’t mean rest and relaxation; retirement’s still far in the future. I mean reflection and reaction.
The past five years of my life have been my hardest, but they’ve also been the most action-packed. I’ve never been a person to count candles or the arrival of gray hairs. Days turns like pages and our lives are one book on a never-ending shelf. Or, to use the vernacular, it is what it is.
Acceptance is the key. But that’s not a passive term. While I’ve been pushed to my limits from all sides, I’m learning to push back. And that takes energy. A component of acceptance, I’m finally beginning to understand, is how and where and under what circumstances to expend that energy. Walking away used to feel like giving up. Now I see more clearly that it can also mean being able to discern when to shake the dust from your sandals and walk toward something else: something healthier, something more fulfilling, something harmonious.
Of all things I like most to be productive, to be purposeful. But I like joy just as much as anyone else. A belly laugh, moments of stillness approaching peace, and awareness of the many instances of beauty in the human and natural world—appreciating all of this, getting to participate in all this—this is what life is and can be.
Last week, a friend asked me, “What do you love—not who—what?” I thought I’d say poetry (or popcorn), but I blurted out this instead: “Freedom.”
“Freedom to do what?”
“Freedom to be myself.”
I know I could not have said this five years ago. And I’m pretty sure I was still figuring out what that could mean. So as much as “it is what it is,” it’s also, “I am what I am.” And while I am hardly in the best physical shape of my life, and I am always seeking to change and grow, I can also recognize now how my flaws are also my strengths.
Every day I spend a lot of time at the keyboard on which I have typed these words. I have stubby fingers and short nails in need of a manicure. But my hands are pretty sturdy and they know how to shape a poem or a pizza or a piano sonata. My hands, like my heart and brain, have been quite productive. Why stop now?
I’ve taken to a small indulgence. I wear when I write and edit, a huge and fabulous cocktail ring on my left hand. Most are inexpensive eBay purchases. I have, among others a pink rhinestone jellyfish ring and a rather flashy green and gold frog ring. I’m waiting eagerly on a purple crystal wolf’s head from China, and this morning I’m wearing the ring and bracelets pictured above, treasured birthday gifts from my kids.
My youngest said this morning on his way to the bus stop in the pouring rain, “Do you really like it, Mom? I know you like to wear those giant, crazy rings when you work!
I do! Made of wire and purple beads and love, the ring is blooming, huge and beautiful, on my finger right now.
Bustling days, bursting lives,
busy bees and buzzing hives
work from sun to moon and moon
attitude is latitude, so hunker
down, gratitude gets it done
then let it be and let it go:
nasturtium, and breezy open window
Good bread, and a link to a wonderful beverage.
May you enjoy a blessed coffee break today.
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