45th Birthday reflections

I’m not especially big on birthdays. Of course, when you are a kid, they are great, and as a teenager, it was a good excuse to throw a party. As an adult, it’s nice to get older, considering the alternative, but I don’t usually want to make much of a fuss about it. Since I’m blogging and writing much more now, I thought I’d put down a few thoughts on it.

Time is a funny thing. I don’t really believe in it as many do. I think there is but one reality and that reality changes. We track those changes as time. Time in physics is actually “space-time” an integrated concept to describe the change in things relative to other things. It’s a bit different than what we think of as time. Our notion of the past is really memory, simulations of states now gone. Well, not so much gone as changed.

It calls into question what we are as we age. Am I the person I was? No, I’m undeniably different. Yet I am also distinct and identifiable as me. In my memory my life has stages. Some, like my early childhood are very vague. Others have more detail. In all cases, my memories are a mix of scattered specific moments and a general story of that time of life. I think I like these stages, the transitions. Too long in any one stage and I feel like making some changes, and am satisfied when I do. Yet, still, there are constants there as well, themes of my life that remain through other major changes. All in all, my idea of spirit is this arc, the interplay of what remains the same and what changes in you. That sense of self and identity is spiritĀ and no other word quite sums it up.

I certainly feel older than I did, but I don’t feel old. Aches and pains are more common and my energy is not what it was. But mentally I feel pretty fresh, always looking at the world with curiosity and the idea that there is a whole lot to learn about and discover. This phase of my life is an interesting transition. Like childhood, there are constantly new discoveries as I travel about the country. But unlike childhood, I have so much context to put things into. As a kid, you learn a lot, but it’s slow to put all the pieces together and see the big picture. Now, everything new comes with a lot of connections and associations.

For so long most of my adventures were in my imagination. I still indulge in lots of those, but I have more real world adventures as well. I would not say one is better than another, both are very fulfilling and it’s great having both. Sometimes I wish I had the vigor I used to for exploring, but you trade that for appreciation. I think I was too restless to really enjoy nature as a kid. I wanted much more to make things of my own than to enjoy what was already there. Again, that may have been a lack of context to put things into. Now, I’ve got the patience and the desire to take it easy and those two things help one appreciate both the big vistas and small details you discover while traveling.

I think I’ve always valued wisdom over vigor, cleverness over strength, so growing older is mostly a blessing. My mind isn’t always as quick, but it’s deeper and more refined. I don’t look forward to the day when that starts to diminish as well, but I hope I’ll find some other quality to enjoy. I also enjoy respect, and a little of that comes with age. I’ve got just a touch of salt and pepper going now and right in the places I like, temples and beard. I’m happy with the cosmetic aspects of getting older. I plan to enjoy middle age for all it’s worth!

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