This week, I will celebrate my 57th birthday. And you know what? I'm excited about it!
It wasn't always like this. In fact, in the spirit of true confession and full transparency, it has never been like this before.
Up until recently, I have fucking dreaded the aging process.
I've worried about what I have missed, what I won't have, what I won't have again, what I might not ever have, what might happen, what might not happen... down, down, down that rabbit hole of worry and regret and yuck.
But this year I feel like, Wow, I'm turning 57 and that is a big number. It's getting bigger every year! Fuckin' A, man!
I do not "need" Botox.
Losing weight is not a life purpose.
Infatuation is not love. And it rarely turns into it, either.
Narcissists make bad friends and shitty boyfriends.
Long hair is always age-appropriate. Crop tops? Not so much.
High heels hurt. I'm done.
Art makes me happier than new clothes.
My life is waaaaaay nicer when I share it with a dog.
In honor of this big day, I sat down and wrote out 57 things I now know to be true. If I'm lucky and I get to 58 next year, I'll add another observation to the list. I'll keep going for as long as I keep going. Aimin' for a long, long list.
Sugar is poison. Aspartame could cause cancer. Ix nay to both of 'em.
We outgrow some friendships.
Grey hair is cool. For some people...
Being chronically single was never the game plan but it has its benefits. I change the channel whenever I want, for starters.
I prefer real books to e-books.
Books and music are not optional line items in the budget.
Lying is not okay. Ever.
We need guilty pleasures.
If he doesn't floss, we are not ever going to happen.
Winter in New England is overrated.
I hope to never again set foot in a mall. Especially not one with a food court.
I love animals too much to eat them.
The arts are my raison d'etre.
Positivity is the way to roll.
Alcoholics are not fun. (Some just think they are.)
When I bring the real Amy to my work I do a way better job.
Going to bed early is awesome.
Technology is awesome, too, and, no, it is not just for young people.
Relationships are rarely 50/50. Having said that, 20/80 is unacceptable.
"Move on" is outstanding advice.
Smile. (It is so sexy.)
Buying stuff rarely, if ever, makes the emptiness go away.
Saying thank you is a way of life.
I will never vote Republican. No need to keep posting that to Facebook.
I can enjoy a meal without photographing it.
I would like to be friends with Patti Smith and Cheryl Strayed.
What's right for me might not be right for someone else. Cool.
Birthday cake is a once-a-year food group.
My generation truly did produce the best musicians. I'm kinda inflexible on that point.
"What's your story?" is infinitely more interesting than "What do you do?"
Fulfillment, not income, is the measure of success.
Cheapness is a massive turn-off.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. Everybody knows this. But now I KNOW it.
Long time dead.
Being let down hurts. Expecting that person to change hurts more.
Everybody is someone's somebody. Show respect.
Saying no is way kinder than saying maybe but meaning no.
Respect another person's boundaries. Hear them when they say no.
"Do something that scares you" may not be the wisest mantra.
My gut knows all. My job is to listen and obey. Punto y aparte.
Confidence is inspiring. Arrogance is offensive. World o' difference.
Sarcasm is a defense mechanism.
Overcomplicating things is not the sign of intellectual superiority.
There are many kinds of smart.
Turns out, all we need is love. (Thanks, Paul + John.)
You only get a birthday if you're alive on this beautiful planet. Celebrate.
I bet I could come up with at least another 20 or 30 observations. But I told myself I'd just write the first 57 that came to mind.
I've knocked around this zoo for a pretty long time at this point. I'd say, hand on heart, that I am truly more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been in my entire life. Because I want so much less. It's this formula of inversions: minimize to maximize.
Lots of people I know speak openly (and bravely) about how much they dread the passage of time. I get it. Maybe they worry about whether they'll get to fit it all in -- the experiences, the relationships, the travel, the books, the concerts, the walks, the coffee, the craft beers, whatever -- in the time they have left. I dunno. Nobody knows, not even people who are given some kind of heads up on the amount of time remaining. We just don't know when it will all end.
Yikes, this sounds maudlin. Okay, moving on...
Given the vagaries of mortality, maybe the key is letting go of expectation to the fullest extent possible. Simply saying, This is where I am now. There are things I hope I get to see and do, sure. But in this right now, here is what there is to appreciate. It is huge. It is amazing. Or maybe it's small and delightful. Or just pleasing. Or just kinda okay. Okay is good. Really.
The point is, it is enough.
I am alive. And it's going to be my birthday. I am going to eat some cake and I'm going to blow out some candles. This is a plan. It's an awesome one.
Getting older does not suck.
A version of this post originally appeared in Life Tips on Medium.
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