Everything I am Not

I am back from an extended blogging break in which I did a whole bunch of nothing that felt like everything to me. I still measure out my life in school years and now that mine is back in session I can write again. During my summer, I had one goal: to determine what I wanted from this school year. In an earlier blog, I wrote about why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions – in short, it’s because I start a new year every day. (See the February archives. I’d link that for you, but I don’t know how.) That doesn’t stop me from planning ahead — I just tend to do the planning right around the start of a school year. This falls, by happy coincidence, right about the same time as my birthday.

I love my birthday: I treat each anniversary of my arrival on the planet with an exclamation point. I am 20! 30! 40! 50! I do not defy my age, nor do I care whether people know how old I am. I chortle, somewhat snarkily I admit, at my friends who treat the aging process like the enemy. I have no doubt that time is chipping away at my essence. I see proof of that in the laugh lines around my eyes and my sparkly, silver hair. But I also see great value in aging, beyond the obvious fact that my aging means that I am still here to think about how old I am.

I may be 51 now, but I’m quite literally a miniblip in the solar system’s timeline. Rather than being depressed by this notion of my own insignificance, I take heart in it. I am astounded with the contributions to humanity that people make. I might like to be as dedicated to my profession as Jane Goodall or as brilliant as Oliver Sacks (I had a serious fangirl crush on him, rest in peace) – but the reality is that I am not. I haven’t dedicated my life to the sole pursuit of my profession, even though it’s one I love. I am not an innovator or a visionary, unless you call my near-perfect ability to intuit when someone needs a hug or a cookie as remarkable.

I am not ultra-anything. Because I fit so many norms I haven’t had to struggle with being outside of them, but that is not the point, either. The point is that, in pondering everything I am not, I always arrive at the same place of who and what I am. I am a superninjawonderwoman at being myself. I am pretty geeked about the process of knowing, of understanding, and of sharing that understanding. Of course, my understanding changes, which is why I like getting older. I was absolutely certain when I was 20 that I was going to be living in Europe at 50. I am not living in Europe and I am grateful that life took me in this direction – or that I took myself here. I am the embodiment of all the good and poor choices I’ve made, a walking, talking map of what happens when you love these certain people and live in these places and take vacations here and read these books, and have these conversations, and so on. That’s what makes me remarkable. To allude to Voltaire poorly, I tend to my little garden and I am grateful to be able to do so.

For this next school year, I plan to laugh often, learn more, be kind, and drink more water. I wish I wanted to become more tech-savvy; I always hope for that, but I don’t actually mean it or I would be able to link between this blog and February, 2015 (ahem). I hope that when I turn 52, I will look at all the predictions and hopes I had at 51 and smile at how far off course I managed to get before making it back to the place where everything I am made a difference to the people I care about most. I hope the same for you.