Thursday, March 23, 2006

28... The Year of the Dance

Sometime ago birthdays meant Pin the Tail on the Donkey, cake and ice cream, maybe a piñata or two, brightly wrapped presents that lay on the table teasing me all day, dinner of my choosing with family and a lot of phone calls of birthday wishes from family and friends. Today dinner is usually whatever I can pull together from the items in my cupboards or something I picked up on my way home, phone calls I can’t answer because I am out of minutes on my cell phone, Ultimate Arm Wrestling Smack Downs where I eliminate my competition and claim victory, no cake and ice cream only dreams of strawberry pie, packages that come FedEx and are wrapped in plastic without colorful ribbons and no family just good friends going to the Apollo for Amateur Night. I turned 28 yesterday, but I don’t feel any different than I did three days ago. In fact, I don’t know that I really feel any different than I did five years ago, except I might be a little wiser and my joints make a few more noises than they used to. As I get older, my birthdays seem to be more a certificate of completion rather than a day of magnanimous festivities.

I admit that I am a little sad to see 27 go. I seem to follow a pattern where my odd years are fantastic and the even ones leave a lot to be desired. I am praying that this pattern has broken. It’s kind of like after returning from a fabulous vacation and going back to work… it’s sort of a let down. Twenty-seven was awesome. I’m hoping that twenty-eight can live up to its predecessor. But birthdays are more than just the passing of another year. It is a celebration of life, an opportunity for friends and family to tell me that they are glad I was born. But even more of an opportunity for me to reflect on my own life and what I accomplished in the past year. I not only made it through another year… I owned it, I rocked it, and I could almost say that it was the best year so far. I aim to say that every year, and if I can, then I must be doing something right.

Age is really just a number. It counts the years of my life but it does not define me. I am not a product of this arbitrary number. My spirit is ageless. My body may get older, and there may be more aches and pains (probably due to the fact I push it to the limit), but everything inside of me still tells me I am young and have so much more life to live. I fear at times that I have not taken advantage of every opportunity I could have and that I have let things pass me by. I would hate to look back on the novel of my life and feel anguish over missed opportunities and experiences. Perhaps that is why I move on a whim, always have a million things going on, allow my passion for all that is life to take over. In my 28 years, I have traveled to Europe 5 times, done an Ironman, qualified for the Boston Marathon, become an aunt several times over, loved and lost, lived all around the country, read hundreds of books, graduated from college, met amazing people, learned to drive a forklift, driven across country 5 times, seen Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon, visited famous cathedrals, monuments and castles, seen the world’s greatest masterpieces and treasures, run hundreds of miles, gotten in car accidents, cried and laughed, developed talents, recognized weaknesses, felt the weight of the world and the peace of forgiveness, and yet there is still so much more I want to experience.

I am twenty-eight. It’s not a product of the candles on the cake I didn’t have or the number of cards that arrived in the mail. The success of my life is not determined by the size of the party, how many people I beat in an Arm Wrestling Smackdown, the kind of gifts I receive or the number of phone calls I get on my cell phone. The success of my life is measured by the celebration of birthdays that mark the completion of a year peppered with numerous life lessons, unforgettable experiences and growth opportunities that get me a few steps closer to the woman I know I am supposed to be. This year I danced on the stage of the legendary Apollo Theater on my birthday, a historical moment in my life that doesn’t bear repeating, but it was the first memorable moment of 28. I consider that the theme for this year of life… may I dance through it to the music of possibility.


Stephen said...

#1: when you say your 'joints' make a little more noise than they used to, do you think that is because you are rolling them incorrectly? or maybe your herb is too old or a little too crisp. either way you should remedy the situation.

#2: i didn't even know you had a birthday or any celebration. i'm sorry. but let this act as my congratulatory and well-wishing act.

nikki said...

Stevey: my joints are cracking because I run too much... no herbs... although that might make the running that much more enjoyable. Sorry you were not aware of the festivities. I was not in charge of the invites, but for what it's worth it would have been fun to have you there.