The annual birthday post.
To be honest, I haven’t known what to say this year. Part of me wants to be able to say that this particular number is arbitrary and not worth having special feelings about. I could tell you that today is just another day.
But I won’t. It doesn’t feel like just another day. For better or worse, I attach a lot of meaning to special occasions. This birthday does feel bigger than others, and I’ve been struggling with it.
In the aftermath of a bad breakup, which I did not recover from quickly, someone once cautioned me about entering my forties with a bunch of regrets.
I’d like to report that I’m leaving regret in my thirties. But this, too, would make me feel mature at the expense of being truthful. When I write about regret, which I probably do too often, it’s because I’m working through mine.
If you were reading back then, do you remember birthday post 37? It seems pretty wise when I revisit it now. Full of good advice.
Lately I feel like the last person who ought to give anyone advice, which is something I touched on during NEDA week this year. I have no clue what I’m doing. I practice a lot of yoga and hope for the best.
There’s probably more intelligence in that approach than I recognize, but still, it feels a bit unmoored.
Unmoored is not my happy place, but it’s not the worst place to be, either. It’s not depression. It’s not despair. Today is heavier than I’d like for it to be and not as heavy as it might be. Not as heavy as other days have been. It’s bittersweet.
I’m grateful for this. It takes a lot for me to accept that things aren’t all one way or all another way. For me to say “it is what it is” today and mean it, which I do, is something.
I was more impacted than I expected to be when Steven Sondheim died late this fall. And as I listened to my favorite of his works again and again, I couldn’t help but keep landing on this passage from the song “Move On”:
Last year helped me to understand that life itself is the point. And this year has helped me to understand that choosing is also the point.
Choosing, by which I mean making moves, taking risks, doing, experiencing, getting out of my head and into the world—that’s the point of my time here. I won’t always like how things turn out, and sometimes they’ll turn out better than I could have imagined.
That’s life. And life, all of it, is what I want.
Speaking of doing and getting things done, I’m thinking about another passage today. It’s from Kenneth Koch’s “On Aesthetics”:
I read this last summer and cried. I didn’t think I was getting done what I thought had to be done, and I didn’t think I was having enough of a good time, existentially speaking.
I’m receiving the passage more gently today. Gently enough that I can simply say, I’ll try.
Thanks for sticking with me through another year of this main part of my life. I’m so grateful.