Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a big one. Sixty. At this auspicious moment I am wondering how the hell did this many years pass so ridiculously fast?
When my kids were young teens itching to do something they weren’t ready for yet, I would get out the construction tape measure. I would lay it out to 100 inches and chalk where their ages fell and how long their wait really was to participate in the activity that eluded them. Then I would point down the line to how many more times they could do that forbidden thing in the one hundred or so years they had to live their lives. It made the two inches from 14 to 16, when their driver’s license would come seem like the paltry eye blink that it was.
Looking back down my own line of numbers, already passed, I am embracing my million moments that drew together to make me. Gathered knowledge is just hoarding thoughts until you share it. For what it’s worth, these are some of the things I have seen.
Even if you grew up watching shows like Friends and assuming adulthood would be a constant coffee klatch with your across the hall neighbors, you will spend most of your time alone in this life. Unless you are conjoined, this is the way of the world. And if you can’t be at peace in your times of solitude, why in the hell would you think other people would be interested in spending time with you either? Learn shit. Get interested and then you will be interesting-to yourself and to others.
The greatest lesson for young teen abstinence should be the fact that the first person you get naked with will-in all likelihood-not be the last. With the exception of the four couples you will meet who are childhood sweethearts-you will swim into and out of tubs, ponds, raging rivers and oceans of love in all its forms until you find somewhere that becomes your place in the world. That’s where you will build your home- however early or late in life you find it and trying to pitch a tent anywhere else will give temporary shelter and nothing more.
When people close to you lash out it is usually because they want you to love them more than it appears you do. If you pay attention, people will tell you what they want-so listen.
Most people, even the most hardened among us, still have a soft, gooey center and if you are paying attention and listening you can figure out what they love. That is what made them gooey like that in the first place. If they showed you the gooey love, they shared the keys to their castle. Honor that.
There are seven billion people on this planet. When you are not famous, the statistical magic of finding one person who can see you for the blazing light you actually are is a gift rarer then the most expensive gemstone. Own that.
Real love never dies. It only changes shape to accommodate the way you live now.
The secret to happiness is this: figure out what you want and find a way to ask for it.
Love is your own personal experience. It sparks and blooms inside your own head-like a private revelation; a movie only you can see. Even if the object of your affection does not return your ardor with the same intensity or at all, never hold regret for having felt that feeling. To know what love feels like is like visiting the most beautiful place on Earth. Not everyone will go there in their lifetime but you have, and you can tell others what it feels like to stand in the center of all that beauty; what it is to see the blazing light of someone else and have it warm your soul even if it’s just for a moment. It will change you forever; no matter if life or death moves you far away from that other person, it will remain part of who you are now.
What I have seen while I have run, swam, played, danced, loved, fought, created, walked, crawled, bled, cried and laughed my way through the sixty years on planet Earth comes down to this: love. It always comes down to that. And on the last day I get in this life, it will still be about love; who I loved and who loved me.
That is where I have a cave of treasure like Aladdin. I remember all the love my heart has felt. It fills my pens, my brushes, my cooking pots and the large broken parts inside of me. It is my gold.
The Japanese have a practice called Kintsugi. It’s a ceramic pottery ritual where a beloved broken vessel is pieced back together with molten gold used like glue. It gathers the shattered parts together; making it whole again in a new and beautiful way.
Today, I will visualize all the love I’ve known as gold and let it fill the cracks and broken parts of me to make me whole like the day I was born only different…better. It will be my private gift to myself; the strengthening of my weak places. What I’ve seen in my sixty years has been a kaleidoscope of wonder and I am filled with anticipation as the curtain rises on the next act.