I turned 40. I had a party. And there is too much to say to actually say it.
I thought for a long time about what I wanted--a huge party with a keg and dancing? Balloon animals for kids? A favorite restaruant in Seattle?
In the end, I settled on being at home. I invited a small group I knew I could be 1000% myself with, hired an amazing chef, cleaned the house, and then soaked it all up. There was a time in my life when I had the idea that other people should know what I want, especially where birthdays were concerned. (And boy, did this stress Yancey out in our younger years! Poor guy.) At 40, one of the things I've learned is that it's okay to ask for what I need. If growing older also means maturing, sign me up.
My 40th birthday party could stand as a metaphor for some of the things I've learned in the last 4 decades and the things I want to keep learning. (I feel a list coming on.)
- Thoughtfully prepared food enhances community. (Maybe I should write a blog about that.) The evening was what it was because of Lisa's beautifuly, thoughtful dishes--whole roasted cauliflower and eggplant with tahini sauce, asparagus mimosa with fried capers and olive oil bread crumbs, beet hummus with sheeps milk cheese and homemade whole wheat flatbread. And so much more.
- Relationships, in the end, are what our lives are about. Not possessions, not even experiences. When I get dramatic about it, I think of myself on my deathbed and how it will be all about remembering and appreciating the connected moments I've had with people I love.
- Getting over myself is a worthwhile endeavor. See above. The things that hold me back--fear of failure, grudges, envy and comparison--are real, but not worthy. Life is too short to be so caught up in my story that I can't see the love and beauty around me.
- Express my love every day. Throughout our long meal, people took turns sharing things they loved about me. Certainly every day or event can't be like that, as I cried through the whole thing and that would disrupt my grocery shopping and conference calls with clients. But it's another reminder not to wait. Kiss, hug, cuddle up to, give gifts to, laugh with, go out for coffee with the people you love! There is absolutely no reason to wait.
- Our true self is waiting in the wings. There's a lot of spiritual frameworks that acknowledge our false self (the ego) and our true self (God-self). It takes the first half of our lives for our false self to recede, stop clamoring, and reveal our true self. And there aren't any shortcuts. I'm looking forward to witnessing how the trappings start withering and falling away in the second half of my life.
It's back to reality now, and that's okay. Paying bills, commuting to work, cleaning out the storage room, picking up dog poop, buying more laundry soap. It's all sacred work, really, and I'm so blessed to be in community--real and virtual--as I do it.