… as Paul Simon wrote in the lyrics of “Old Friends” while still in his twenties.
My birthday is this month. Friends older than I am smile or even laugh when I say how strange it feels to be on the brink of seventy. “You’re so young,” one said to me recently. I suppose in some respects it’s true. It’s also true that I am no longer young.
Last month I came across “Self-Portrait” by Mary Oliver. Naturally, it resonated.
I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.
Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.
Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch
though I'm not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.
We never know what a coming decade will bring but have I ever faced one as full of uncertainty as this one? For me personally, my family, our planet, or for humanity? I don’t think so.
Sometimes the weight of concerns I carry in all these areas has me feeling less full of beans that it seems Mary Oliver did at seventy. Other times, I’m as ready as anyone to climb those dunes and even swim in that sea.
Whatever the state of mind and body on my birthday later this month, I will celebrate it with gratitude for the roses: all the love, safety, good health, and security that my life has offered me, so far, and compassionate awareness of all who are struggling.
In the meantime, tell me what you love about being the age you are — especially if you're over 70!