A person I know just celebrated their 34th birthday.
When I was that age I was living off-grid, sleeping in a tiny 5th-wheel, and waking on winter mornings with blankets frozen to the wall. I’d just met the man I would marry, and that was also the year we not only wed, but moved to the ‘city’. A house with electricity, although the only source of heat was a wood stove. And the ‘city’ had a population of 157.
We were on the fire department. I’d just been certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. I was working in a mental health agency, in grant-funded birth-to-three programs.
Of course, I was writing. That was the year I got brave enough to send out my very first manuscript for professional editing and then off to agents. Thanks to the encouragement of my husband.
Two years later, at 36, we had our son. There were concerns during the pregnancy about my ‘advanced age’.
I felt rather old at those comments.
Now I’m a few weeks away from sixty.
And suddenly, thirty-four sounds so very young.
I wonder, if I make it to one hundred, if I will write a blog about how very young sixty sounds.
When young, it was important to my mother to celebrate birthdays, but it’s never been a big deal for me. I feel no need to celebrate sixty, either. Matter of fact, I kind of want to ignore it. Except that I also kind of want to go to Vegas and get a tattoo.
All this makes me think of a poem by Mary Oliver that ends with this line.
‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
Sixty years old. There’s still plenty of time to decide. Although I don’t think I have valued enough just how wild and precious and rare and short-lived life actually is. Too many years spent being too hard on myself, living obligations instead of life, worrying about doing the right thing, whatever the ‘right’ thing actually is. Too worried about disappointing others, or letting others down. Having to be the ‘good’ one.
That tattoo and Vegas is sounding better and better.