A friend of mine is going to turn 60 in April. I asked her how she felt about that and she said, "Pari, I’ve survived ovarian cancer for seven years now. I’m just glad I’ve made it this far."
But I’m feeling like David Byrne right now. You know the song, Once in a lifetime, with its famous question (it’s the title of this post).
And then there’s the cartoon on p. 52 of The New Yorker today. The one with the mayfly looking at himself in the bathroom mirror, despair writ large on his little face. He says, "I’ve got a wife, kids, a career — Jesus! I’m twelve hours old! How did this happen to me?"
Boy, can I relate. For the last few months, I’ve been staring mortality in the face. She’s got too many wrinkles, a hairy wart on her left cheek, and a wicked grin.
Yeah, sure, we never really know when we’re gong to die (unless we take it into our own hands). Still most of us avoid looking into that mirror unless we’re forced.
Enter birthdays that end in 0 . . .
When I turned 40, I could double the number of years I’d lived and imagine that an equal number awaited me. Or more! (Even though genetics aren’t in my favor in that regard . . . )
This week, in spite of the power of positive thinking, the math doesn’t work as nicely. When I face my age head-on, I get this lowdown, nasty, cramp-the-gut feeling. Damnit! I’m not gonna be here forever.
Enter distractions . . .
But a person can’t run forever; this birthday feels critical.
I want to take advantage of it, to live more intentionally.
What’s important? What isn’t?
I’m becoming lighter somehow, more willing to shed those activities, thoughts, goals, definitions and people that don’t deserve the mental/emotional real estate they’ve occupied in the past.
I’m redefining "success." Not "settling for less," but looking at the real value — at least for me, in my life. Fan letters suddenly mean more than reviews; there’s incredible satisfaction in knowing I’ve created a satisfying read.
I’m not as desperate to go traipsing around the country for every potential promotional opportunity; real relationships are the goal now. The old quality vs quantity question is a no-brainer.
I’m writing more than I ever have before, taking risks . . .
Who knows where any of our lives are heading? With this birthday, I’m finally old enough to realize that I don’t.
And, because of that, I’m paying more attention to today, to every day.
Next Monday, Steve Brewer will be guest blogging here at Murderati. He’s got a great post and I hope all y’all will make him feel welcome.