I am 40 today.
The opportunity to scrutinize one's past on a birthday is irresistible and I believe that turning 40 is a definitive landmark in one's personal history. It's not a source of stress for me, never has been. I like birthdays but the attention that comes with it is often odd for me. I don't love being the center of attention. So, writing about my birthday on my birthday is clearly drawing attention to a day that I usually don't make a big deal about.
But, this birthday is a big one and not entirely because I'm turning 40. It's because my past has become a blur and I'm starting to recognize that fact. I've lived long enough that I don't always remember my past clearly and I hate that. I've done so many amazing things in my life. I was in Berlin in 1990 and hacked a piece of the Wall off myself. I went off to grad school at 22 and finished within 2 years. I exhibit my artwork nationally and have had several solo exhibitions of my work. I got married to an amazing man who by all accounts I never should have met. A chance meeting and the next thing I know we moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta and have 2 great kids. And, eight years ago I finally got the job I always wanted - that of an art educator - working as a graphic design instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta. I mean, the boxes are there and check, check, check...
The sad thing is that I really have to dig to think of these amazingly good things. They are not in the front of my consciousness. In my conscious life the benchmarks include 2 major events - the day my dad died when I was 23 and the day Bea was diagnosed with cancer. It's so hard to put other experiences into perspective when these 2 events are just so huge.
We all seem to forget the good things so easily. They become a part of our past and often stay there. So, my question is... why do the sad things of the past stay with us so much longer?
With that being said, my goal for this 40th birthday is to spend the day relishing the good things in my past and to try to strike a balance between those great events and accomplishments with the difficult experiences. It's not going to be easy but I know that I deserve some joy and sense of accomplishment today. Maybe tomorrow will bring a new mood, new thoughts, new worries or new promises. But that's tomorrow and it hasn't happened yet.