My life is full of birthdays this time of year. My daughter’s, my son’s, my sister-in-law’s, a good friend’s, and my birthday all fall within seven days. I’m not sure any of us are thrilled to be a year older, but we are glad to have a birthday. Many don’t.
As I get older, life gets weird. Maybe I’m the weird one? Either way, I wander around wondering what just happened. Family life, social activities, and the price of living take my thoughts back to what seems like science fiction. As a kid, I babysat for twenty-five cents an hour and considered myself rich. As a young mom, I paid fifty cents an hour when I needed someone to babysit my three small children and thought that was expensive.
Today, grandkids look at me like I’m from the dark ages, and when I say something, they have questions in their eyes as if I’m speaking a foreign language. I do the same with them. Together, we probably look like cartoon characters—our heads cocked to one side and our brows furrowed, with the caption, “Whattt?”
All I know is I’m no longer in the cool loop of speech, music, movies, or technology. Raised with a party-line telephone—I guess the privacy concern is similar between that and iPhones, but it sometimes feels like a different game with rules written in Chinese.
Nobody told me how to get older. Did they tell you? If so, please share.
Our world today has varied and valid extremes: young/old, rich/poor, healthy/sick, genius/technically challenged, and the opposites of politics, to name a few. For us, you and me, to be mentally healthy, we need to recognize and accept different realities. If we don’t, we live with frustration and angst instead of simple curiosity, satisfaction, and peace.
Most of us fall in the middle between extremes, and aren’t we lucky? From the center, we can see both sides and feel compassion for those less fortunate. We can also make choices based on a broader worldview.
If we criticize or envy what someone else has or doesn’t have, or for what they want, do, or think, we sow and reap a life of negativity—not an ingredient for healthy choices, caring relationships, satisfying careers, or more effortless living.
Life is rich because of our experiences. What was, is, and will be, gives each of us a unique anchor. As I approach this next birthday, people whose reality differs from mine nourish my enchantment of life, including almost everyone, because nobody is exactly like you or me. That’s the good news—different realities enhance characters, scenes, and plots in our life stories.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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