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Taking Stock

I’m writing this blog on my 66th birthday. It’s not one of those eventful ages that we either dread or can’t quite believe we’ve reached. But, whatever my age, birthdays are a time that I find myself thinking back on my life—and forward—considering what I have, what I need, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed. It’s like being a small business owner and doing an annual inventory of what’s working and what’s not.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the mundane events of life and forget that we have control over the areas to which we devote the greatest amounts of energy. If we’re counting only time spent, this has been a year that I’ve worked more at outside jobs than I have doing my own writing or working on my own projects. This most recent trip back to work has reconnected me with old friends and provided me with financial profit, so it’s certainly not all bad. Still, when I look at who I am and who I want to be in this next phase of my life, I’d definitely like to see less energy devoted to jobs and more to writing and staying in shape.

One of the oddest parts of getting older is realizing the urgency of remaining in good physical condition. It’s no longer a matter of just weighing what I want to weigh or fitting into that cool pair of pants. It’s much more about needing to be sure I can keep moving as long as possible. It’s a huge focus for me now and I’m happier, frankly, with the physical side of my life than I’ve been in years. I’m probably in the best shape of my life, which I never would have imagined when I took up running nearly 40 years ago. In this annual taking stock of things, I’m very pleased with the physical side of my life, something I haven't always been able to say.

My inventory of friends is overflowing, not as much in numbers as in the lushness of the experiences.

On this birthday, I also feel embarrassingly rich with friends and family, including the two silly dogs who greet me daily. After living as long as I have, I am well aware that it is not easy to reach for each other when we’re scared or worried or in trouble. And yet, we do it. We stay connected to each other, we help when we barely have enough time to breathe, and we sit and listen even when our days are long and stressful. My inventory of friends is overflowing, not as much in numbers as in the lushness of the experiences. That we have watched each other grow and change and struggle and thrive for so many years is almost hard to imagine and yet, here we are.

My strongest feeling on this day that I begin my 67th trip around the sun is definitely gratitude—for all of those people and dogs, and for the amazing opportunities I’ve had this year—to travel, to meet new people, to learn more about my craft, to encourage other people, to push myself to try new things, to make plans for the future. When I have a day like today—one in which I can set everything in front of me and take a look at each piece that makes up my life—it pleases me no end.

There is very little I would add or subtract, with the exception of shifting the amounts of time I spend at certain tasks. When I was younger, I never imagined what my life would be like at this ancient age, so I can’t really say I’m surprised it’s all turned out so well. But I do know that it feels good on this path, learning as I go, and having so many wonderful companions to share it at every step. Grateful beyond measure--yes, indeed.

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