Prelude to a Birthday

“It takes a long time to become young.”-Picasso

Today marks a one week countdown to my birthday.  Over the years, I’ve found many ways to bring in the year… going on a trip, having large combined parties, small dinners, taking off work, staying silent about it while working, attending concerts, spa time, family time, partner time, or friendship time. Despite the numerous ways to bring in my new year, all bring about moments of reflection.

How did I live the past year?  How do I want to live the next one?  Have I served others?  Have I served myself?  Where am I at with my goals with body, wealth, and mind?

But next week is the prelude to the big one.  I am turning 39, it seems a bit different.  A large number of my friends are in the midst of turning 40.   One particular friend noted how we should mark the year in a special way…she suggested we choose to engage in conquering 40 things we are afraid of or have putting off in life.  The list could include anything: holding a tarantula in your hand (her idea), going skydiving, nude beach, taking that dance class you have been longing for, or even wearing red lipstick. At end the year, we ideally should celebrate with one massive collective birthday party for ourselves.  It will be like a wedding we throw to marry the “us” we love!

I’ve decided to create a special facebook group for these friends from grade school, high school, grad school, and beyond.  I’m not sure how they will respond, or if people will opt out.  But this excites me.  I am hopeful that my friends will post their Top 40 lists, and we can serve as accountability partners.

As I look in the mirror, I notice several gray hairs growing by my right temple.  Signs of my decades are evident to those that stand close to me.  But juxtaposed to the grays is my notable young face.  I don’t see a 39-year-old, or feel that age.  Internally somehow I am still 15, but with more logic, experience, and guts.  With age, comes confidence and an increased desire to live fully in the present moment.  No regrets.

Birthdays do not have to be something we fear, or keep in silence.  It’s something we have the opportunity to embrace.  Another year on this earth.  How do I want to live the next one?

It’s an opportunity to start over.  It’s never too late to create anew.

If Picasso was right, and it takes a long time to become young, what does it mean to be young ?Words that come to mind for me are :

Carefree Flexible Laughter Play Joy

Silly Energy Dance Curious Present

Focused Naive Simplicity Create Forget

Faith/trust in the world No apologies

Why wouldn’t I want this as part of my life as an adult? Can we learn to be young again ? With each birthday that comes around, can I vow to have the essence of childhood in the forefront of my brain? It’s a mindfulness activity. Be present focused. It’s all we truly have.

As I write this, I await my weekly flamenco class.  The instructor informed us we will be having a dance recital this summer.  I shared this with my mother.  She offered to fly out from Philadelphia to see me dance.  It felt reminiscent of me being a 5th grade school production.  She was proud, and I am proud…of a dance recital at 39 as a beginner! What comedy, but what fun!

In 2017, I had spent conquering one item per month I was afraid of. One of them was taking a flamenco class. I have yet to create my list of 40. Will it be possible to attain to stretch myself so much in one year ?

What would your list include?  What’s keeping you from doing it?  Would you will be willing to share this list with others, for them to be your accountability partners?

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. “-Voltaire

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