Today is my birthday, but I’m far too clever (or is that cagey?) to simply say that. Truth is, I’ve been thinking about my past birthdays. “Contemplating my natal navel,” so to speak. I’ve been thinking about:
Food. Always a big deal on birthdays. But amid the current lockdown, well, we’re having leftover Mother’s Day curry. But, hey, it’s from my favorite Indian take-out place, so I’m delighted, actually. (Plus, my wife promised to bake one of her legendary walnut pies!)
Memories. Most of my birthday memories are tied to gatherings of family and friends, eating out, seeing shows, all the BC stuff (Before Coronavirus). So for now I’ll just have to remember the future.
But mostly I think about…
Aging. Did you ever suddenly realize, “Wait, I’m not 23 (or 97, or whatever), I’m finished being 23; I’ve already started my 24th year!” We think about age every time we have a birthday, but our perspective gradually moves from “Yay, I’m older!” to “Damn, I’m older! Age 5: I’m a big kid! Age 13: I’m a teenager! Age 18: I’m an adult! Age 30: I’m old! (Hah, just wait, kid.) Age 40: I’m middle-aged! Age 50: I’m even more middle-aged! Age 60: I’m really, really middle-aged!
In the final scene of Peter Pan, Peter, the perpetual youth, visits Wendy, expecting her to fly away to Neverland again. But Wendy tells him she can’t because she’s “ever so much more than 20” now. Well, I’m ever so much more than 20 (let’s just say it’s somewhere between 30 and 90). In fact, I’m closer to “Old Wendy” than ageless Peter.
But if I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that only our bodies need become Old Wendys. Our hearts and spirits can always, if we let them, remain perpetual youths. If we retain the spirit of play and imagination, the joy of living, and most importantly a love for the One who breathed these lives and spirits into us, we can remain young forever. Neverland can be foreverland! So, what do you say…
Want to fly away with me?