Today I turn 44.
It’s a no-big-deal number, just one of those midlife clock-ticking ages you turn. One day you’re 43, and the next, 44. Same face, same skin, same abilities. Until one day it’s 50 and then 60 and then things really do change.
Or maybe they don’t.
In some ways, today I feel stronger and more myself than ever before in my life. I began my birthday by rising before the alarm in the 5 a.m. hour and heading to the pool for master swim. I was slower today than earlier in the week because I have had one of those run-run-run weeks – but I still hit the water and combed through it, stroke by stroke, exhilarated by the early morning air and the cool awakening of the water.
I love my life. I feel so grateful to be alive and to be exactly where I am.
My work – exciting, interesting, plentiful.
My family – beautiful, wonderful, loving.
My friends – best ever. Soul sisters. Deep connections.
Where I live is beautiful at this time of year. I thought about that as I got in the pool today, knowing that tonight Dan and I will row on the choppy waters of the Detroit River and I will absolutely love it. And I began to wonder how, as I age, I might find a place to spend my winters where I can feel the skip in my step every sunny morning and be in or on the water year-round.
Retire in the Bahamas, where my niece says, “It’s always summer”?
I love a birthday in the Facebook age, especially. I’ve lost count of how many hundreds of people have written me sweet notes on my wall today, wishing me a great day, saying nice things about me.
On a birthday, you feel on top of the world. Just for being born. Just for being noticed. Just for being appreciated for who you are.
Perhaps one of my favorite posts was from a man I met on a plane three years ago. We sat on the runway, delayed for three hours in a tornado-storm before lifting off for Los Angeles – he to stay for a seminar, me to travel on to Bali. We’ve been in touch ever since, mostly on Facebook, and he wrote today: “Happy Birthday to you! One of the most friendly and brilliant woman I have ever met!”
Aw, sweet man. You, too.
Life is a series of connections and interactions. The people we talk to, meet by chance, get to know – what a gift! Every breath is a new opportunity to exhilarate in the world around us.
The trees damp with humidity today smell wonderful. The overcast sky is bright and enticing. I have a meeting ahead where possibilities are endless and lunch with my wonderful parents.
A birthday can make you feel your inherent importance. That you mean something to other people. That it matters that you walk the earth.
Happy birthday to me, and to all of us. Let’s celebrate our very existence. For it is truly the greatest gift of all.