I had intended to write everyone back and thank them for their birthday wishes, and then life happened. I accept that I’m not getting to it by the end of the week when I look at everything else on my plate, so I’m writing an impersonal thank you instead.
Thank you for making a stressful time a little easier. It’s just a birthday wish, but it’s something so much more than a birthday wish, sort of like one of those confusing math problems where one plus one adds up to more than two. I feel as if that must happen sometimes in calculus. I should add that I’ve never taken calculus.
This has been a hard winter and a hard spring, and couple that with a fear of growing old and a strong sense of my own mortality (as well as the ability to freak myself the fuck out about my mortality) as well as general end-of-the-year weepiness, and I managed to make myself physically sick over the idea of turning 40. Physically sick for days. I like to think of that as one of my hidden talents along with mastery of the Irish penny whistle and an ability to replicate all of the voices on the London recording of Les Misérables.
By Monday night, my body was starting to surrender to the fact that it was aging, that Little League baseball was ending, that the school year was wrapping up, that we’re in a period of upheaval and I’m going to have to live at this level of anxiety for an indefinite period of time. And I started quietly to say to myself, “okay.”
It’s a little word of acceptance. It’s an acknowledgment. Perhaps now is not a time when I feel ecstatically happy and settled. And that is fine. There is always the option to pause in okay; for not reaching beyond okay but stopping here and nodding. This is where I’m at right now. Okayness.
And that’s okay.
I love this blog and I love Facebook because your birthday becomes this great reminder of all the people out there who are surrounding you in your okayness. Sometimes social media can make you feel a little bit more alone than you actually are. It has the ability to isolate; to make you feel as if you’re looking in a funhouse mirror where all the images you’re seeing are taller or thinner (or simply better) than what you gaze upon when you look down at your own reality. Seeing things as a reflection rather than head-on can sometimes do that. Social media has the ability to make us feel left out or disconnected or not heard.
And then you have a day like your birthday, when all these random people from various parts of your life come out of the woodwork to say two words: happy birthday. And with those two words, they remind you that there is also so much good in social media. It makes us feel included, connected, heard.
So thank you for helping carry me over that line; not just the actual line between 39 and 40, but that much greyer line that delineates okayness. Thank you for bringing me over to the better side of that, when okay signals an accepting sigh vs. the hiss of reluctant settlement.