This month I am celebrating my 58th birthday. I don’t share this news with hopes for either benevolent wishes or reassurances that 58 is really not that old. I am good with all that. I am sharing this because it truly makes me happy to get to be alive yet another year – and I finally figured out the secret: growing a bit older every day seems to be the only way to continue to be alive. This seems an insight worthy of note.
We all fall prey to messages that aging is something we are supposed to dread or incessantly lament; complaining about it is a surefire way to “belong” in our culture. Without a doubt, parts of my body that used to be perky are now more pendulous, facial features are dwarfed next to the lines that surround them, and organs and joints I never even knew I had because they were once quiet, now creak, ache, and clamor for attention all hours of the day. I definitely do not have the physical or mental energy I used to have; Friday night plans usually end early or get canceled, my concepts of productivity have downsized, and, increasingly, I cannot remember simple, self-assigned tasks from one room to the next. But, weighed against not getting older, these all seem like very small prices to pay. Aging is surely better than the alternative.
I am no more entitled to a far-reaching lifespan than anyone else on this planet. No amount of attachment to nuanced goals or well-constructed plans for the future assures me longevity.
As far as I can remember, when I came into this world, no one promised me a certain number of days, months, or years to live. I am no more entitled to a far-reaching lifespan than anyone else on this planet. No amount of attachment to nuanced goals or well-constructed plans for the future assures me longevity. Neither does eating gluten free, taking ten supplements every morning, or meditating – but I do it all anyway for the sake of daily wellbeing. Counter to what some in the “New Age” movement say, I do not believe that simply wanting to be alive is enough to keep me alive, and that illness and death only come to those who “fail” at wanting life badly enough or making the “right” decisions. I know too many truly extraordinary people who have died to buy into these kinds of harmful concepts.
“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most, live the longest.”
Having a birthday offers me the welcome reminder that it is nothing short of a total miracle to be alive yet another year. I could call it any number of things, but with the sheer volume of mind-blowing things that can go wrong, and the mind-numbing forces that have to function well and cooperate for any of us to get ourselves up out of bed every day – much less to move from one place to another, love whom we love, and do what we do – it feels appropriate to use the term “miraculous” to describe making it from one entire year to the next. And using the term miracle here, I am not referring to “lightning bolts coming down from heaven and having some wish granted” kind of miraculous – I mean that it is so stunningly humbling and awe-inspiring to be alive every day that I cannot help but think that having the opportunity to grow older and to age is a total privilege worth celebrating. Bring on the effects of gravity…and bring on the gratitude.
One of my favorite cards has the quote, “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most, live the longest.” What a great reminder to celebrate whatever we can, whenever we can, and to take absolutely nothing for granted. Nothing except, maybe, that the longer we live, the more we will age. That everyday miracle seems worth celebrating.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was published in March 2017. It has been updated by the author.
If you would like to join the conversation, please share your reasons for being grateful for getting older, below. We welcome your reflections…
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You are young. Write again in 10 years.
Hi Christina. I AM young at almost 60, and feel it in relative terms. Thank you for reminding me. Yet it is true that many people feel old at this age. If I am still alive in 10 years, I will surely write the blog again, and hope that my perspective will remain the same. My intention will be to remain grateful for all that I can be, knowing that the balance will be in my favor right up till my last breath…and perhaps beyond.
I couldn’t agree more. I will turn 50 on Tuesday, and I feel gratitude for being here. As I look forward, I contemplate what I want my middle years to look like as they take shape marching to a hopeful 60. Enough seems to never be enough. Today, I sit in gratitude for all that has been given, all that has been taken, all that is left. It is enough. I intend to move forward to make life better for others. Kristi, thank you for doing it for this community.
What a lovely essay on getting older. I love getting older because so many wonderful things come with it and the outside stuff is just that. I am paraphrasing a quote: “Inches, ages, and numbers are outside things that don’t add up to who you are. So, if you are going to measure me, measure me by who I am and who I am trying to become because numbers are only statistics and statistics lie.” Although I am now 67, I will be 16 in my heart forever. Happy 58th birthday to you and another miraculous year of living ❤️
Thank you Nancy for your wishes and for knowing what truly matters; the inside stuff. And no matter the condition of the outside, what a gift that we get to have a vehicle through which to be alive, experience life, and share love!
Couldn’t agree more on the engine of life being the complicated, yet poetic web of miracles that somehow network together to make us tick. Enjoy your miraculous birthday, Kristi!
Thank you, bringer of many miracles, Pear. Blessed by you always…Kristi
The title of your blog attracted me, “Grateful for Getting Older”, my birthday having just past and most of my birthday cards having had a very large 90 embossed on them, even though I still feel about six. And I get as much fun as I ever did from the dandelions and the daisies, the roses and the orchids. Everything you wrote is just so true. Thank you.
My mother told me many many years ago that no matter how old you get, you will always feel like that little girl inside. She was right.
Dear Elizabeth, whenever I read your name, I get a smile on my face, because I see you traveling on a flying carpet with a bunch of kids around.Happy journey in this new year !
Elizabeth – Happy 90th birthday and bless you for your Big Ageless Spirit! You are one of Br David’s peers – and he is another example of someone who keeps his childlike wonder and playfulness close, to great results. You are an inspiration!
Elizabeth, you are a true inspiration to be 90 and still feel about 6! How wonderful! Blessings to you.?
Dear Kristi, thank-you for sharing that uplifting and inspiring article! I am 64 years old and the happiest I have ever been in my life! I have learned to just be myself and not worry what other people think of me. I exercise regularly and eat healthy and have gotten off all prescription meds. I take nothing for granted and I am so grateful I have learned to be grateful! I truly enjoy the ‘simple’ things in life. I am abundantly blessed and profoundly grateful! Kristi, you are right, it is ‘miraculous’ to make it from one year to the next.
Peace and blessings. ?
Big, grateful thanks to you Sheila and keep being an inspiration! Taking nothing for granted surely does make for a miraculous life. XO
I did not think I would live past 30. I will have my 51st birthday soon. Every day is a gift. I have seen all 3 of my children grow up and now have seen one grandson be born. I am so grateful for every day and every birthday.
THANK YOU Rhonda! You are a great inspiration, and a grateful living practitioner for sure. Many blessings on your robust and generative life, and thank you for sharing your story with us!
A belated Happy Birthday, Kristi! I hope and pray there are many, many more to come.
For me, one of the greatest blessings that I am grateful for as I accumulate birth anniversaries, is that I increasingly know I don’t have to take things (life) so seriously, like I did when I was younger. Also, the years (60 of them) have allowed me to gather the wisdom to realize that – What others may think of me or my actions “is none of my business”, as some wise person said long ago. Also, all of my efforts toward disposing (releasing?) of any of the other aspects of being a ‘people pleaser’, like I was in my younger days, has allowed me to feel more peaceful, calm, grateful, relaxed.and in general – enjoy life more.
Kristi, thank you for your wonderful blog post. I think it is a masterpiece. I do so love reading well crafted writing especially when it presents such valuable wisdom. In my opinion, if the universe is behaving properly, your post will find a very prominent and permanent spot on your website. I also hope that somehow it soon gets published on the website and/or in the magazine for aarp.org and similar places. So many people could benefit from seeing the very healthy and wise perspective on aging that you have presented. The audience at aarp would very soon grow to love making daily visits to your website – just like I have.
Dear Karmit – Thank you so very much for your very lovely and meaningful praise and sharing. I would love to see this blog post move farther out into the world, and appreciate that you encourage this. Let’s see that happens. Also, I join you in your sense that growing older allows us to release our concerns about what others think about us. This is a daily practice for me!
I too am in your age space – and often I marvel at how things have fit together to allow me to truly live a blessed existence. The fragility of life is a simple enough reminder to take nothing for granted. It also begs the response to take each moment with gusto and giving – for as the adage reminds us, it is far better to give than to receive. Thanks for your thoughts – there is real magic in recognition.
Drew – it is so very nice to hear from you. Thank you for sharing my “age space” – I love that! And for your beautiful reflection about life and living it generously, ever aware of our fragility. I would love to imagine that we share this approach to life. The magic is alive indeed…
Your reflections are amazing and lovely. Thank you.
I’m closer to 40 and in my point of view I being grateful for getting older because I can notice the maturity of the soul, I can read many pages in my story. The beauty of learning is when I look at the mirror and I can see the beauty in spite of the effects of gravity. Or when I can smile because I forgot simple things. I believe getting older, give us the chance to being who we are and don’t care with different opinions, we respect it.
Another day my husband said; look this teenagers, are crazy … And I answered: yes, completely crazy and we were like them one day. 🙂
More older = more opportunities to learn about life and about to love people. It’s wonderful.
Congratulations on your birthday! Many blessings for you!
With fraternal love, hug, Cintia
Thank you so much for this reflection Cintia – you are right that as we get older, we hopefully grow to care less about what other people think about us, and this is such a huge source of liberation and freedom for all of us – no matter what age we are when we arrive at this freedom! With many blessings – Kristi
Two years after turning 70 I’m even clearer that being in my 70s is becoming the best decade of my life. It is good to remember backwards and hope forwards, gratefully, (notwithstanding the’ dark’), enjoying what is present in each day. The gift of al hours of the day and night to ‘flow’ in time, to choose with whom I shall spend quality time including animals, upon what I shall gaze, upon what i shall reflect, with little responsibility and interruption is sheer joy.
Carol – what a beautiful state of being you have described for us for which to look forward with joy. Thank you for also reminding us what we can appreciate at any stage of life, if we can allow ourselves. Meaningful living…it sounds very wonderful on you. Thanks for sharing.
For me the key word is “opportunity”.
grow in love and wisdom;learn from past mistakes and make new ones;learn to deal with loneliness, grief,loss; experience new wonders and pleasures in singing, dancing, writing and sharing it with others;have moments of quite reflection and raucous celebration; touch, feel, sense,remember; be grateful for what remains of my ability to remember, to smell, to see; appreciate my gifts as well as dwell on my faults; let go of the shackles of cnfusion and doubt that sometimes carries the day; to see the goodness in myself and others that I sometimes fail to notice; not be concerned with the answer to the question “why”
I am old, not “getting”older, closer to 85 than 84. I am soon to reach that statistical category that the U.S. government labels “the oldest old” I am grateful for that too.
WHAT A GIFT you have offered us here! Indeed, having the opportunity to be alive and notice the opportunities within that is what Brother David would say grateful living is all about! You have said it beautifully and perfectly. Thank you so much for your wisdom and for your glorious aging and BEing…Keep going! Gratefully – K
Thank you Kristi. One of the blessings of getting older is that I am able to appreciate just being alive. I am much more grateful for those little moments than I ever was as a younger woman. I’m also less concerned about how I look when I go out, in the sense that I don’t wear makeup all the time. I used to never wear shorts in public because my legs are on the heavy side. Now I’m grateful for how my legs serve me and I don’t worry about how they look. It’s much more peaceful and less stressful in the later years.
Hallelujah indeed! Wonderful liberation of growing older and relishing the opportunity. Thank you Linda. I am so glad that you are not just alive but vital, and a part of our community! Blessings to you – K
And …keep in enjoying your birthday time with the awareness of the gift of life and its wonderful surprises!
my best wishes?
Thanks dear Kristi for your wonderful article, and I don’t exaggerate, thanks also to other people sharing here their reflections; all are wonderful, deep and suggesting more and more reflections.
I’m in the midlife too, and I can but agree with you: I can face my issues with more patience than when I was young, I can feel calm very soon after a moment of anger. I can find balance between the opposite feelings in my daily life. It is not so easy, but I can.
And is not that like a Heaven?
Some days ago a very funny story on whatsapp has made the rounds of my friends mobiles and mine and we laughed so much: it was just about the weakness after the 50! Just a joke to say: we are aging but we are the best! we are not aging; we are “vintage people”!
Hello Vintage Friend! Indeed, isn’t it wonderful to know as we age that there can be a space between a feeling and indulging it, between a thought and thinking it is true, between an impulse and action? This to me, like you, is freedom. Thank you for sharing, and for the birthday wishes. <3