I turn 49 today. I am almost unreasonably happy about this ... which is little odd, because even though I'm not a person who laments birthdays -- I generally love them all -- birthdays that end in "9" have always felt somewhat shocking to me. I think, "Wait a minute ... am I at the end of a decade? So soon? How the hell did that happen?"
But this year, for some reason, I hadn't thought much about it until a few days ago, while on a trail near our house. I was in the middle of a 5-mile hike (sweating and panting profusely, because ohmyGodHoustonsummers), when it suddenly dawned on me that at 49, I'm officially at an age where I can look back at my 40's and decide whether it's been a good decade or a bad one. I can think about what I learned, and how it has compared to previous decades of my adult life. I can think about how, as I enter the last year of my 40s, I want to close it all out.
For the record, my 20s were a mess. I mean, they weren't irredeemable (although there were obviously high and extremely low points), but I was such a kid. My 20s were about my growing up and becoming an actual adult. They barely count.
My 30s -- wow. They were amazing. My 30s were all about adventure. They were about visiting and living in foreign countries, about facing fears, about exhilarating (and sometimes volatile) relationships. My 30s were external-facing: they were about my going out into the world and learning and taking in as much as I could about places and people and cultures and practices that were completely unfamiliar to me. My 30s were about expanding my mind and life experience in the very best possible ways.
But my 40s? My 40s have been equally amazing -- truly, they have -- but in such a different way. My 40s have been inward-facing: they've been about creating a home with people I love -- figuring out what that should look like, and making it happen. They've been about getting clear on what and who are important to me, about my values. They've been about figuring out what I want to stand for, and what I want to get loud about. And most importantly, my 40s have been all about getting very comfortable in my own skin ... actually, they've been about reveling being in my own skin. And it's so nice to discover I love being here.
As far as what I want to do this last year of my 40s, I'm not entirely sure yet. But the other day, as I was thinking about it, I stumbled across this post: 10 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer Before You Turn 50. And while I'm not usually a fan of things-you-must-do-before-a-certain-age-or-you've-failed lists, these questions felt like really good questions to know the answers to at any age. So I think for the next 365 days, I'm going to keep these questions close, and think about how I would answer them. I hope to share what I come up with here on Chookooloonks with you next year.
So now, since it's my birthday, I think it's time for my birthday wish: I wish that all of you who come across this little corner of the web are amazed in some way today. I wish that some little event or occurrence or thing of beauty that crosses your path today -- and it will -- catches your attention in such a way that it brings you right to the present, to that very moment, and makes you marvel that even in this world filled with violence, and bigotry, and batshit-crazy politicians, love and light still exist. And I wish that in that moment, you experience even a few seconds of pure joy.
Have an amazing day, friends. Here's to thriving.
Soundtrack: Word up, as performed by Willis. Wave your hands in the air like you don't care, then glide by the people when they start to look and stare.