I love birthdays. My family has a long tradition of celebrating birthdays with great flare. We all wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare treats for the birthday boy or girl. Gifts, candles, balloons and cakes are part of our celebrations. At 5.00 am, we all meet in the kitchen where we prepare a special tray of surprises. We then sneak down the passage, whispering and giggling in anticipation of wakening the birthday-person with song and best wishes. We all gather on the bed to participate in the opening of the gifts bestowed upon the lucky member. During this birthday ritual we talk about the blessing of having this person in our family and how this very special member enriches our family life with their uniqueness, talents and existence.
During the day the celebrations continue and the member is exempted from any household chores, which is a great gift in itself. In the evening the birthday is concluded with a special thanksgiving meal in celebration of the gift of life. To us as family birthdays are special, because it is the day that you were given the biggest gift ever. You were given life.
“Our life is a gift from the Creator. Your gift back to the Creator is what you do with your life,” – Billy Mills
Why are most adults fearful of aging? We often hear the fearful whispers of the big 40, 50, 60, 70…
So I’ve been asking myself this question: Where does this fear come from? What makes so many people scared of aging?
One explanation I’ve found comes from societal norms and culturally inherited limiting beliefs that influence our way of thinking and don’t serve us well.
If you grow up preparing yourself for the aging process as if it will be a burden, that’s exactly how it will feel. It’s all about self-perception and the story we tell ourselves about whom we are becoming with passing time.
Is the fear embedded in the perception that youth is the only thing to be celebrated and that growing older is something to be avoided for as long as possible?
Maybe this fear is fuelled by the subconscious message that is portrayed in the media. Youthfulness is fresh and desirable and therefor another birthday lurking around the corner should be avoided at all cost. There is beauty in age. James Simpson, a Scottish obstetrician and a significant figure in the history of medicine, said: “I believe beauty competitions should be held only for people over seventy years of age. When we are young, we have the face and figure God gave us. We did nothing to earn our good looks. But as we get older, character becomes etched on our face. Beautiful old people are works of art. Like a white candle in a holy place, so it the beauty of an aged face.”
Aging is part of life. It is a journey of experiences, good or bad, that shapes wisdom and character. I am a wonderful ripe 55 years and I am proud of who I have become in my journey through life.
The day I turned 50 was a day of celebration. We dressed in ocean colors and danced to the rhythm of the waves, which I so dearly love. We celebrated the hurts, the disappointments, the betrayals and the losses that shaped me into the woman I am today. We counted the blessings and gifts bestowed upon my life. We gave honor to the Source of Life, because the greatest gift to be given to any human being is the gift of life and it should be celebrated in honor of the SOURCE.
“Women sit or move to and fro, some are old, some young. The young are beautiful – but the old are more beautiful than the young.” – Walt Whitman
There is such great beauty in age. We should remind ourselves to embrace the journey and celebrate our aging. The beautiful poem, Beneath the Sweater and the Skin by Jeannette Encinias reminds me of how courageous it is to embrace aging as part of our life journey.
Birthdays are achievements to be embraced in honor of you and your bravery, your beauty.
Next birthday buy the cake, light the candles, invite the friends and neighbors. Sing happy birthday to you. Sing to the glory of being a life!
“Here’s what I know: I’m a better person at fifty than I was at forty-eight … and better at fifty-two than I was at fifty. I’m calmer, easier to live with. All this stuff is in my soul forever. Just don’t get lazy. Work at your relationships all the time. Take care of friendships, hold people you love close to you, take advantage of birthdays to celebrate fiercely. It’s the worrying — not the years themselves — that will make you less of a woman or man.” ~Patti LaBelle
“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.”