Contemplating my 54th Birthday

Today is the day before my 54th birthday. I’m sitting outside contemplating the odd patterns that my birthday has to offer. People who’ve known me for a long time will chuckle any time my birthday approaches. September 13th is known for weird happenings in my realm. Is it me? Maybe! Some friends update me with a countdown a week or so before or send me updates of upcoming weather forecasts or scan the newspapers for weird events about to happen and wait anxiously to see what will happen.

On my birthday I’ve experienced freaky weather, both in South Africa and in whichever state in the US I’m in, I’ve driven through hurricanes, tropical storms, had weddings and funerals to attend, and been really sick. So, when it comes to my birthday, it’s just another day and I’m thankful when I don’t have to deal with any big issue.

Having passed the half century mark, although I have no idea how that happened – surely it can’t be true – I feel like I should know more, do more, have done more, be a wise old sage to the whipper snappers around me and maybe learn how to chill out a bit more. We are the masters of our own environment, caretakers, and students of the universe. Life is weird. Life is hard. Life is life (na na, na na na…. sing it with me!).

What have I learned in nearly 54 years? Well, I’ve learned to be afraid, but also to be brave. I’ve learned not to take things so seriously, but also to take things seriously. I’ve learned that sad and terrible things happen to people close to me, but I’ve also learned that we are able to rise up and face crises and defeat them (yet sometimes we fail at that, and it’s ok to fail). I’ve learned that great and happy things happen to people close to me, but I’ve also learned that instead of feeling jealous or snubbed, I can rejoice with them and help them celebrate their glory. I’ve learned that God is on my side and that He has a plan for me, even though I fall off the track all the time yet somehow, I always get back on it. I’ve learned everything, yet I’ve learned nothing.

I have several friends who celebrate their birthdays with me on September 13th and I’m curious if they also have experienced the weirdness that I think follows me. Is it a mysterious “13th” syndrome?

I’m sitting outside on the front patio listening to the trains and the nearby highway, watching the hummingbirds feed from the feeder, watching and greeting my neighbour’s as they come and go, seeing squirrels scamper around the garden and up the trees. The weather is perfect this morning, just how I like it. It will probably change tomorrow – true to form!

I remember when I was very young asking my mum in all honesty if she used to write with a feather and ink when she was in school. Let’s not dwell on her answer! Now I’m that person who can’t figure out why kids can’t tell the time on an analog clock – and when did we start referring to it as an analog clock? It was always just a clock! And yes, we had a rotary phone and we had to remember phone numbers (again, it was just a “phone”)! Nowadays I only know 2 phone numbers – mine and Greg’s! The music we used to listen to is now referred to as the “golden oldies”. So, what do we call the music my parents used to listen to? The “rusted oldies”?

It’s amazing to me that being in my 50’s seems to be sort of youngish, whereas 30 years ago 50 sounded very close to retirement! People tell me that it’s just a number. True, but it’s a big number and I’m not sure how I should feel or act as a 54-year-old. I’ve never been 54 before.

Maybe today I should cheat the universe and pretend that today is my birthday, just to see if the dynamics shift! Here’s to another 54 years of experience and learning!