Monday, February 25, 2008

Old is Not the End

I had a birthday two days ago. Most would call it a big one. I think every birthday (every day for that matter) is worthy of celebration, but I have to admit that I had more attention than usual on this one. It was #75.

Sandra and I have a tradition around birthdays. We celebrate for a week. For her it is MarshWeek. For me it is MillerFest. A series of surprise activities is organized. The birthday boy/girl doesn’t know what is to happen until the last moment. The other handles all the everyday chores for the duration of the celebration. The one being feted is boss. It is a great tradition.

To acknowledge that this was in fact a big one, MillerFest 2008 was organized to last for 11 days. We had great meals. We drank extraordinary wine. We did fun things. We saw good friends. And it’s not over yet. There is one final special event scheduled for tomorrow.

About my more than usual attention on #75, my thoughts were:
There is no getting around it, 75 is old.
A lot of the obituaries I see are for people younger than 75.
And for those who die after 75, many of them aren’t much past 75.
Even though I’m not on the verge of expiring, I am entering the last act, the final
stage, the winter of my existence.
75 doesn’t frighten me, but thinking about it is a little sad.
And a few more . . .

In the weeks leading up to my birthday these thoughts recurred. I didn’t think they were uplifting, but there they were. This is just the way it is and there is no point in resisting it. 75 is old.

Then I had a new thought – one that acknowledges reality but is not morose or depressing. 75 is the beginning of old. With my new thought came a new context for the next phase of my life: Old is not the end.

To make sure I was not totally off base, I thought I should check out the definition of ‘old’. The dictionary has a lot to say about old, but the first definition is: Having lived or existed for a relatively long time. Perfect. That is at once both accurate and not loaded with negative interpretations. I have lived for a relatively long time.

Onward . . .


Blogger Jane Sherwin said...

What a delightful statement! I congratulate you, not only on your longevity but also on your eloquence. Here's to many more equally serene birthdays. I'm sixteen years behind you.

5:24 PM  

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