Today is my birthday. I am 67 years old. Surprised? So was I when I got up this morning. I used to be reluctant to admit my true age, especially after I hit 60. Over the past few years, however, I've turned a corner, metaphorically. I've headed down a new path that takes me in a new direction, away from the old cultural beliefs about aging and into a new and exciting adventure in this amazing Third Age that I am currently experiencing. No one before the Baby Boomer Generation has ever been on this adventure before and I am both honored and privileged to be along for the ride.
I started this post while sitting at my writing table in front of the big window that looks out over the fields of new growing corn and the valley below, where the blueberry farm has just opened for the season and is doing a brisk business. With coffee in hand I was watching the morning antics of the birds and the smaller critters who have come to live with me in this piece of heaven on earth and, as I always do, I also kept a eye to the skies, keeping a lookout for the hawk that lives down by the pond and pays us a daily visit. Every morning he makes a low, slow circle over the area, riding the air currents and keeping his sharp eyes open for his morning meal. I hold my breath as he passes over head and find myself calling out of the window to the chipmunks, the voles, the mice, old rabbit who lives out back and chubby woodchuck who lives down the hill but comes up for his breakfast: "Take cover!" Thankfully so far he eventually widens his search parameters and moves on. This morning, however, he did not come. He did not get up early enough. A dark and ominous looking bank of clouds moved in swiftly right after sunrise followed by rolling thunder that sounded like a dozen kettle drums and, finally, a downpour of Biblical proportions. I prayed that the little ones had found cover before the deluge hit.
As much as I don't want to see the hawk swoop down and capture one of my little friends, I felt sorry for him this morning because he was going to have to wait even longer for his meal. I realized that I had been making the hawk the bad guy, the criminal, for only doing what all hawks do and, for that matter, what all of us do - trying to life his life as who he truly was. Just like us he has a job to do, and a family to feed. Just like us he wants to live his life soaring on the currents and knowing the exhileration of being alive. I could not expect him to behave in any way other than who he was, and I was certainly well acquainted with what it felt like when people expected that of me or other folks my age. If anything, I had to let go of the limiting belief that I had of him as someone to be despised, destroyed and feared. I had to accept a new idea of him that said even birds of prey deserve to live a long and happy life in freedom and happiness.
We all deserve to live a long and happy life being who we truly are and not allowing ourselves to be pushed into some tight, uncomfortable box that others have built to keep us in check. The whole idea about conscious aging and breaking down culturally built walls around getting older is to allow us to be who we are. and know that it is ok to continue to try out our own wings and soar to new heights and new experiences.
So this is the gift I am giving to myself today, and to each and every woman who may be looking at 60 from one side or the other: spread your wings and ride the currents! The view is spectacular from up here!
Happy Birthday, Flower Bear!
And so it is.