For some reason my next birthday is hitting me differently. As if I've been randomly placed in a middle America corn field wondering, "how did I get here?" Obviously I know what's coming, but now that the big day is approaching, I feel like I'm an adult now. Maybe it's because I just bought my first house, I'm nearly finished with my novel draft, and I now spend my weekends getting my groceries delivered, and doing yard work and house chores. My life has taken a right turn into the direction of my dreams where goals and aspirations are aligning and the stresses of achieving are decreasing. It's not that I don't have stress, it's just different from how it has been for the past few decades. Instead of working hard all week and venting about it all night, I have smoother days that are busy, but my evenings are calm and relaxing at home without the worries of the day. And instead of the daily shame of not writing, not working on my craft, I'm working on my craft.
In my house, I have my very own writing room filled with many books and art, and all the things that inspire me, including my beloved typewriter that my wife gave me a couple of years ago for Christmas. I've never had a writing room before, only space within a space where I do other things like watch TV or sleep. To have a space that's dedicated to my writing is like having an office or a cubicle that you go to, to, well, work. It feels like a sacred place now where I can look out my window and look up at the shading oak trees and sky high pines. A place where every inch of every corner has been treated with the love of a cleaning cloth, paint, and our hearts. We've put our whole hearts into this place after feeling like our hearts would be broken without it. But the great divine blessed us and now we give back to it.
I've always loved the idea of gardening because my foster-grandparents had an enormous garden with green beans climbing up the fence, gigantic pumpkins in the fall, and chives that were regularly cut for baked potatoes. Every year I helped my grandma plant new tulip bulbs and rows of flowers that bloomed in the spring. And now that I have this beautiful space of my own, I want to make it the same as how I grew up, the essence of my childhood. It is the one place that I can look back on with joy and peace, and now that I can have it, now that it's here and attainable, my life feels so different.
To have gone through a whole life focused on attaining goals, accomplishing one and moving on to the next. The life where nothing was quite good enough because there was so much more to go, has now turned into a life where all of those years of work have accumulated and now I live off the fruits of all that labour. Because where I'm at now - physically, mentally, spiritually - is not because I all of a sudden hit some proverbial button and things changed. This time and place has happened because of the years and years that I've put into my life. The years that I've put one foot in front of the other, persevered, and strived forward in the midst of immense struggle. This is the other side.
While ten years ago I would have never imagined to be where I'm at, this is where I wanted to be even if it looks nothing like what I thought. It's a place where retrospect lives and I can look back and say, well you almost had it right, and, I wish I could have seen then what I see now, sort of thoughts. Because I sure had to go through a lot of suffering to get to this mental place of ease and relief. Nonetheless, If my path wasn't as rocky and jagged as it was, I wouldn't have a quarter of the gratitude that I have today, for everything, even for this big age that I'm coming into. It's the age that all those old ladies in roller sets warned me about, the time where the aches would come through and grey would multiply. It's the top of the hill that I've been climbing my whole life. I just hope that I'm not tumbling down the hill, and only moving forward with more ease than going uphill, because that's always the hardest part of the trail.
I am so grateful for the people who have come, and gone, in my life. They've made me stronger, given me a different filter to look through, and provided knowledge that I'll carry with me forever. More importantly, I'm grateful for the few who have been with me through it all. The ones who have seen the rise, the fall, the growth, and the decay. I'm grateful for my rocks, the ones who inspire me and share their light with me, everyday. I'm so grateful for life.
As I gear up for this year of 40 and beyond, I know that it won't be as smooth as butter, but I know that I'll respond differently to the burns. That I will carry the past with me like the china wear that collects dust year after year in the credenza. It'll get dated and become something that I've had for so long, but it'll pass through time until it sells at a garage sale, having lived inside of my many published works. That's all I can hope for right? A legacy of published books with my name imprinted on it.
So I'm turning 40, who cares, right? As hard as it is today, I know that I'll get over it in a few short weeks. But as I write this, I also know that I can look back at everything that I've gone through, and I can look forward knowing that I have a whole life to live. One where I carry the retrospect of the past, and have a future full of possibilities and dreams yet to come. Because I haven't accomplished everything yet. So cheers to my birthday, cheers to dreams coming true, and celebrations for the next edition of my life.