Sunday, May 24, 2009

Three score

My birthday today. A big one. This last week I've been like a child awaiting Christmas.

Sixty. Three score years. Ten more to go before my time's up if tradition is anything to go by. The family genes hint that I may be around a bit longer than that but the reality that individual existence is finite and that it will vanish, dissolve into something with a different shape and form or without shape and form, ideally lends a heightened awareness and a freedom to each day. A lightening up. Which is as it should be. Throw what's left of one's allotted span into the air and see what shape it takes when it hits the ground.

  • The blessed liberation from the hormonal merry go round, and a consequent level of calm and equilibrium (some of the time) .
  • I can finally stop trying to get it right. If I haven't by now I never will and it doesn't matter. It being life.
  • There are still yearnings: to belong, love in the widest sense and an end to loneliness. But you start where you are with what you have.
  • Good health and fitness - the right rotator cuff excepted - are real, unexpected gifts. My body and I are finally on amicable terms. Weight has normalised. Clothes fit. I had huge food issues once so this is a big deal.
  • Family: my sister, my cousin. Meeting up with the former in a few hours time.
  • Friendships continue and a couple of new ones are forged. Others fall apart or fade away.
  • Nearly bankrupt we may be but as of today the state throws a small monthly pension in my direction. Not enough to live on by itself, I'll need to work for a good while yet, but I'm thankful to have it. Plus free prescriptions for any medicine I might require and - best of all - free bus travel all over England. The downside: the identity photo on the bus pass is truly depressing.
  • And there's more. As an OAP I can sign up for U3A, show up for the £3 afternoon Silver Screenings at the local cinema, get ten per cent off paintbrushes and spanners on Wednesdays at B&Q ...
  • Engaged and humorous colleagues who do a great job in the community. And who threw a surprise lunchtime birthday bash on Friday.
  • The cat. Of course. He's the feline equivalent of 86.
There are skills to develop. Plants to discover. A blog to write. Books to read. Seasons to greet. Footpaths to walk.


The sky pale blue, translucent after weeks of rain. The warmest day of the year so far according to the BBC. When I let the cat out just now the air was clear and heady, like a fine cool wine. Earth and grass damp. Breathe deeply.

Prana. Life force. The one constant

None of it matters.
All of it matters, every second and atom.

I wouldn't be twenty again for the world.


Bunty's (adoptive) Mum said...

Enormously happy birthday, dear mm.
It gets better all the time - just you wait and see!
I love the photo. There is truly light at the end of the tunnel (and not just light, but a whole new world!)

herhimnbryn said...



Dear mm. Any tips for one who reaches her 50th this year?

Zhoen said...

Joyeaux... um, birthday.

Thanks for tramping down the path and sending back a map. Far less scary when happy reassurances come back. Love the inventory.

I watch the white hairs accumulate on my cat, and try to make his life full of love and comfort, hoping he will be with us a long, long while yet.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, and I love your post. You're making me look forward to 2012!

Jan x

Dale said...

Happy Birthday!

Thank you, thank you for coming into this world! Stick around a while, we need you.

MB said...

Happy, happy, happy day to you! And year!

pohanginapete said...

Happy birthday! May you enjoy many more, and the days between.

If the cat age calculator is to be believed, Ming (the frequent visitor from next door) is now the equivalent of 104. Not bad. If I can catch rats at that age I'll be pretty happy ;^)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! You're a Gemini! So am I...

Many happy returns.

Janice said...

"At her sixtieth birthday party, Lucy asks, 'do you feel any different?' Marie says, 'yes, I do. I feel absolutely marvelous. It’s clear now that I was born to be sixty. And to be honest, I can’t wait to be seventy.'”

This is from a wonderful book I read last year - No, I Don't Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironside. Marie lives with a cat named Pouncer. You can read a bit about it, if you wish, on my book blog in an entry in November 2008

happy, happy years, Mary

den said...

May your force be with you.
The rest of the best is yet to come.
Happy days

leslee said...

Happy Birthday, MM! Thinking a lot about the shortness of life lately. Sounds like you come to appreciate it more and more, counting one's blessings. Wishing you abundant blessings this big year. (And don't forget - next year you can celebrate a dyslexic sweet 16!)

Krissie said...

happy happy birthday to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if thats the right amount of candles? blow them out and make a wish!!!

mm said...

Thanks one and all. I love these comments.

Bunty's mum: You are a good example that it gets better.

HHB: Difficult to give advice re 50, I only have a vague memory of it! Don't believe the horror stories about the menopause though. On balance, mine was a cinch. No hot flushes. Nothing. It gets better, I promise.

Zhoen: Sometimes I watch the cat and my heart hurts knowing it isn't for all that much longer. I try to make it the best possible life for him.

Jan: I'm enjoying it so far ... !

Dale: thank you for sticking around. I'm glad you're there.

PP: Me too! Good to hear from you.

MB: ... and from you, dear MB. Seems a long time ago that we first "met".

HH72: Who would want to be anything else?? ;-)

Janice: "I was born to be sixty". Love it. It's how I've been feeling. I know and like Virginia Ironside's writing so I will look up this book and your blog entry. Thank you!

Den: I believe you .....

Leslee: Counting blessings. Feeling them too. Sending reciprocal ones back to you.

Krissie: Those candles are fabulous. Thank you!

Endment said...

Belated Happy Happy Happy Birthday!

I passed the milestone a few years back --- from this side of the milestone it seems to be getting better and better :)

Sky said...

so sorry i missed the actual day, but my wishes are sent, nevertheless, to remind you that you are cared about here on the northwest coast of the US, that wishes for a magnificent year ahead ride these words across land and sea, and that your arrival in this world has been a significant event for many people, including those of us in blogland who only know you by the words you write.

I loved the inventory you share. so much we have all learned along the way. those 20s were filled with so much drama amidst myopic vision for me. I didn't seem to settle down in my journey until my late 40s. if i only had the good health of those younger days and the strength of that younger body i would be more content in this older agehood i find myself living. ;)

Dick said...

Good times ahead, mm. There are vital freedoms within the 60s. But the bus pass will only qualify you for free travel on local services so your round-Britain tour may take a while!

Bunty's Mum said...

Not so, Dick! It's possible to do Land's End to John o' Groats on the bus pass now, as long as you have the time and inclination to wait in wind-blow bus shelters.
I guess you're too young to know.

mm said...

Endment: So many commenters who are further along the path reaffirm that it gets better. Thank you.

Dick: You have been one of my post-60 inspirations for a little while.

Now, bus passes. The documentation issued with my bus pass says:

"Free bus travel in Herefordshire and on journeys starting and finishing in Herefordshire at all times.

Free bus travel in other parts of England (but not before 09.30 or after 23.00 hours on Mondays to Fridays).

Free bus travel on cross boundary journeys between Herefordshire and places in Wales at all times."
So. Dick and Bunty's Mum seem both to be partly right. Unlimited local travel but also fairly open-ended travel further afield - but in England only. I reckon it's a good deal, even though I can't tour Wales or Scotland for free!

Bunty's Mum. said...

Sorry about John o'Groats!
I've been surprised to be able to travel free in out-of-county towns - always suspecting a catch but not finding one so far.
You do have to walk or taxi back from the Nite of Klubbing though!

mm said...

Nite of Klubbing indeed! Thank goodness I don't have to do that any more.

mm said...

Sky: Goodness knows how but I somehow skipped reading your good wishes, and such heartfelt and warm ones they are. So sorry and thank you. They are warmly reciprocated and sent back to you on the Pacific North West. xxx

Cat B said...

Happy birthday and welcome to the club! It is indeed a good one! Wishing you many blessings and that all your dreams will be fulfilled!

mm said...

Thank you, Cat.

Avus said...

Just catching up on blogs having been lazy recently - so belated birthday wishes, mm.
But what a wonderful, uplifting and calming posting this is, showing acceptance and being at peace with yourself.
I passed the big 70 this year and agree that I would hate to be 20 again. One now lives in one's own skin and no longer worry what others think.

mm said...

Absolutely, Avus. And thanks for the good wishes. Am enjoying the bus pass greatly!

Minnie said...

Lamentably belated best wishes (+ many happy returns, of course) from visitor in France. I've been enjoying your lively, thoughtful and delightful blog - thank you!