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.
I have a picture of my son walking into Darien High School for the first day of his freshman year and I keep looking at it thinking, “When in the world did this happen?”
Happy Birthday! That collage called David seems to be working for you!
David Anderson says
You have me laughing, Matt–at my collage!
Happy Birthday, David! May the year bring adventure and peace.
David Anderson says
Thanks, Johnna, and Amen.
Dear David, here you are, on YOUR birthday, giving US a gift. Thanks so much for that. I’ve known all the Davids you speak of–and I love them all. 58 blessings coming your way!
marty gilbert says
Happy Birthday! Your reflection has made my day..bringing glorious memories of the wilds of Wyoming and my rebellious earlier days. Thank you for this gift and your many gifts to us.
Lida Ward says
David! So glad you are honoring all of your selves on your special day. Age is a privilege and as my grandmother always says – “Happy birthday…you can’t live without ’em”. Hope you had a happy day, young man!
Caroline Oakes says
Yes — I love what Michael wrote: Here you are, on YOUR birthday, giving US a gift. Truly! Thank you, David. Blessings to you on this day we are all so very thankful for. 🙂
Pam Anderson says
And I’m grateful to have joined forces with that college rebel nearly forty years ago. Happy Birthday, David!
Yes, yes and yes to all of the above! Thank you for blessing us with your “many selves,” for reminding us to celebrate the process. Happy Birthday, David!
Well said David. Happy Birthday!
clark johnson says
David, Each day you see us and pray for us and speak to us is our blessing. You have a ton of Very Good days ahead! clark
margaret anderson says
Hope that the year to come is filled with good health and happiness every day of this year. God bless and keep you in His care.
Cathy H. says
Happy birthday! I like your perspective. It’s good to be reminded that the younger, more fearless me is still around. 🙂
Kay Anderson says
David, I especially like this one! So well said — we access our various selves all the time and the older we get the more we can. Although sometimes I feel as if even the spirit or the “will” gets a bit tired, as compared with the ambition I had when young. Aging is a funny and sometimes confusing process. Thanks for writing about it so well!
David Anderson says
Yes, you are right. There is a loss of will, but that I think is part of the wisdom process (if we allow it). The will–or as Nietzsche put it, the ‘will to power’–begins to soften and relent, and then we are–in Gerald May’s terms in “Will and Spirit”–more “willing” and less “willful,” more open–able to see not just the narrow corridor of our ego-view of the world, but the more spacious vistas of love.