61 Birthdays

bday cakeLast Sunday was my 61st birthday, the day referred to in the title of this blog.  I meant to do a little retrospective of my life but life itself got in the way.  I got married, so that distracted me just a little bit.

So now I’m back to my original intention for this blog, on a foggy winter morning in Oregon, USA.  It’s beautiful outside, with the sun starting to lighten the fog, allowing trees to step out of the mist and greet me this fine morning.

So, here’s my life, in six short decades:

In my teens, I was trying to understand life while growing up in an abusive family.  I was trying to reconcile what I learned in the Catholic school I attended with what was happening in our home, a home where abuse of all types reigned.  I asked for help and was told to repent my sin of not honoring my mother and given penance after penance to say.

In my twenties I had given up hope of ever finding love or even a reason to live.  I was acting out and living recklessly, running away from the dichotomy of the love my religion said was the purpose of living and the violence that had been my experience of living.

In my thirties I came to learn that unconditional love was possible, but that I could never expect it from the person who gave birth to me.  It was my time to learn how to live my own life, become my own person.  I had to leave the anger of the past behind and come into a new world of my own making.

My forties were the best years of my life.  I grew.  I excelled in everything I did.  I became a loving and compassionate person.  My career was flourishing.  I allowed myself to trust love and to take into my world the person who is now my wife.

My fifties were the hardest years of my life.  My beloved soul mate, Cee, almost died twice of an unknown illness that later turned out to be Lyme Disease.  The mounting medical bills caused us to lose our dream home to foreclosure and drove both of us into bankruptcy.   The search for a cure for her became critical, and the only focus in our lives.  Living with such a life-threatening chronic illness caused our whole world to close in around us.  Each day focused on the threat of death and the hope for life.  What are the words in a traditional wedding ceremony?  “… in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death do us (almost) part…”  That was our life.

So now I’m in my sixties.  Menopause has come and gone.  My body doesn’t feel that youthful any more.   I look at my hands and see the dark spots of aging, drying skin.  How did this happen?  When did this happen?  Time is speeding up, almost exponentially it seems.  Six decades done.  How many more do I have left?

But even though I’m coming to grips with my changing body and questioning what is ahead of me, I’m finding my sixties to be a time of incredible promise and exciting challenge.  I’ve started back to school to learn healing qigong and I’ll be picking up a new career just when all my friends are retiring.  I still have things I want to accomplish in this world.  I want to help other people who are chronically ill, those millions of people in this country who suffer from the diseases that have taken control of their lives and boxed them in.  There is so much possible, so much that is new and exciting, and I intend to be a part of it.  I celebrate this life that is me.  I’m proud of who I’ve become.  I’ve learned love and compassion.  I’ve learned to reach out to others and make a difference in their lives when they are hurting and confused.  I’ve learned to trust, to ask for help and to receive it when it is given.  I’ve learned to see life with a wider and wiser vision.  I love my life.

Life is good.  Life is fun.  Enjoy the journey.

22 thoughts on “61 Birthdays

  1. First of all Happy Birthday to you, Chris 🙂
    I was deeply touched by your thoughts of your life and life in general. My tears flew like water but I was not sad at all – because in your words there was so much hope. Thank you!

  2. Happy Birthday. May your life only get better and better. Having surpassed your 61 years by five more, I must agree that life seems to go by faster…but also seems to get better in getting settled into who we are, and what we can do with the wisdom we’ve gained over the years.
    Congratulations to you and Cee!

  3. Good for you for going back to school and started a new career.
    I am 65 and find life so much kinder and slower that it was in my younger years.
    My kids bought me a camera a few years ago and I have found a whole new joy and hobby.
    Have a good week coming up way to fast.

  4. Hi Chris! I celebrated 4 more years than you this week, and life still feels good (I just don’t look too closely in the mirror 🙂 ) Sounds like some of yours has been a real struggle. Glad you made it through.

  5. Happy Birthday Chris, and I agree with the others who are just a little older than you, life seems to keep getting better in the sixties, so give it your best, life is wonderfully responsive to those of us who keep reinventing ourselves, transforming with the whizzing years 🙂

  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY…I was choked up. Your story turned out beautifully and I hope it continues on a path of hope, health and happiness. Good for you and much happiness and peace always.

  7. I can understand why you disliked your 50s. I’m sorry that you and your soul mate had to go through so much and are still going through it to a large extent. My 50s have been an awakening for me. I’m in the final stretch and will be seeing 60 before this new year is out.

    Happy Belated (very belated) Birthday!

  8. Pingback: Surprise! I’m an Introvert, Who Knew? | The Day After

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