As another birth year comes to a close and a new one stands poised to begin, I find myself pondering our cultural ideas about birthdays and the very nature of age.
If you'd asked me at 18 how I thought I would look, feel, think, and dream in my 30s, I doubt I would have said, "precisely the way I do now!" And yet, on the verge of the first moments of 38, I seem to myself exactly as I always have... as mentally and physically inspired, excited, and energetic about and in life as I was in my teens.
I'm not an anomaly. Many people I know and care about remark how "odd" it is that they feel the same as they did when they were children... that they don't feel like they're getting older.
Maybe what's "odd" is the meaning we assign to age and the way we imagine the experience of aging.
What would we do and who would we be if we allowed ourselves for a moment to consider 38 as 18... to pretend that 21 was in fact 60? Wonder, wild adventure, and unbridled passion aren't meant to be the exclusive playgrounds of the young. The creation of meaningful and moving poetry, music, and art isn't reserved for only the seasoned and experienced. I marvel at the profound maturity and vast knowing of many of my young clients. I am in awe of my father's dancing and theater-going three nights a week and my mother who -- a month after retirement -- enrolled with giddy enthusiasm in university courses on everything from archeology to occidental history to Eastern mysticism. How much I learn from them all!
How are we limiting the possibilities of ourselves and others by the notions of age to which we individually and collectively cling? How many 8-year-olds think they're too young for their ideas to matter? How many at 80 think that they're too old?
I'm also impressed by what a birthday is truly celebrating. When I consider my parents back on July 29, 1974 at 9:13 a.m. after a 17-hour labor (my first official act of stubbornness) I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the idea that this day is not about me.
So as my parents' special day approaches yet again, I wish you all the opportunity -- whatever your age -- to explore the endless and timeless possibilities of mind, body, and heart that are available to you beyond what you've heretofore thought of as age-appropriate. And to give thanks, in word or spirit, to those who brought you into this world... to those who made it possible for you to now be in the midst of this incredible gift and ride called life.
For more by Jennifer Hamady, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste. Learn more