Today is my 58th birthday.
This morning I received a note from an old friend—someone one month younger than I—who posed the question we all ask as the years mount: What am I doing in this old person’s body? I still feel like the person who played the sax in the marching band, the person who quit his first job and drove across country to California.
It’s true, we feel like that old version of ourselves is still in there, that while the years may have worn away plenty on the outside, that inner self is untouched somehow.
I like what Madeleine L’Engle said. “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” I am still the playful young boy, still the wild adolescent, still the college rebel, the carefree newlywed, the young father, the new priest out to set the church right. All of those incarnations were critical to the gradual creation of the person I am today—the parts I remember with pride and wistful longing, and the parts I remember with sadness or remorse. But the Creator is continually using all of those moments to shape my life, and the process goes on until the birthdays finally cease.
I am still all those other Davids, all those other ages, and so are you. We don’t stop being those earlier people because–God knows–we need to be able to access the gifts and energies of each age. When you need it, you can still pull up the playful version of yourself, or the zealous one, or the loyal or creative or crafty or passionate one. Thank God, you can still be all those characters in the still unfolding drama of your own crazy creation.
I’m thankful for my many selves today.