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Happy Birthday to Me…

Written by Vicki Hinze

On March 14, 2006

Warning: this is a no-edit zone…

“Human beings, by change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”

–Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I know women are supposed to hate birthdays. They’re supposed to get hyped up about aging and all that, go into a blue funk for about a week (or a month), and eat their way through a couple pounds of chocolate at the nearest candy store. You know, to get “happy” chemical relief into a mourning body that just ain’t what it used to be.

But that’s all hype created by marketers who want you to feel bad about yourself. Your emotional imbalance is good for their fiscal balance, if you know what I mean.

Sorry to disappoint them, but the truth is I know very few women who obsess over aging. Most consider every year a victory. I went through these ups and downs and I’m still upright. I learned how to do this. I finally got time to do that. Hey, I got a turn this year!!!!

At year’s end, we’ve either been comatose or we’ve changed a little. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve yawned. We’ve gotten fired up, calmed down, taken in and chilled out–sometimes, all in the same day. The bottom line? We lived.

Living is winning. Some people exist through an entire life, too intimidated of screwing up or making mistakes to live even a moment of it. Now if you’re in that boat, you’ve got something worth worrying about going on. But if you’re out there making the trip, scaling the mountains, trudging through the valleys, enjoying a few joys and a few kicks in the gut, then you’re doing just fine. Celebrate.

Sore from the journey? Probably. Even Atlas had to shrug, right? Okay, I’ll give you that one. The body’s got a few more crackle and pops and a few more scars than it did at twenty. But the mind’s sharper and that high mileage experience has the soul a lot more at ease. So the balance of power between the physical, emotional and spiritual has shifted and moved a little further inward. Considering the body wears out and gives up and the soul hangs with, isn’t that a good thing? Emphasis growing on the part that’s everlasting?

I don’t know, my friends. I worry about people who are age conscious in the same way I worry about women who are afraid to leave home or be seen in public without makeup. I actually knew a woman once who boasted that her husband had never seen her without lipstick. They’d been married over a decade.

Now I’m not a cruel person, but I am curious, and I didn’t ask but I certainly did wonder what she was afraid he’d see. The naked face is a beautiful thing–especially one that’s been lived in a little. It’s interesting in ways others are not, you know?

It takes heat to temper steel. Time to experience. Years to develop–or become a–character. Our society is rather obsessed with youth. That’s not without humor, if you think about it. We’re a people who fully appreciates the rich, full-throated smoothness of an aged wine but we spend billions to halt the clock on become aged people.

As for me, I’m celebrating this new year. Maybe I look at this whole aging business differently because I had a brother locked into life as a vegetable for all but five short months of his entire life. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a few close calls and survived them intact. Maybe it’s just a genuine appreciation for the different seasons in life. I don’t know. It’s probably all of that and more.

But I’ll tell you something it’s not and that’s fear or marketing hype convincing me I should be fearful of aging. Each decade has brought new assets and interests, and though I hear all the ads saying I should be thinking about aging and getting obsessed with erasing lines off my face, I believe I’ll just keep blowing them off–the ads, not the lines.

The truth is I don’t think about age much. And I just picked up a year. No, not because of the birthday. Because I spent the last year thinking I was a year older than I really was. I hear you laughing, but kindly remember that words, not math, is my strong suit.

Okay, so maybe the reason is that I’ve already spent a year being this age. A two-for-one deal. Hey, now that’s victory!

Whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy this coming year. I’m going to be grateful for it and cram it full of fantastic memories. And if I get a new line on my face, well, I’m going to enjoy that, too. These little marks are memories on their own.

The crease at the brow? Oh, getting all three kids in college without declaring bankruptcy. This one, near the mouth? Mike’s two wrecks in four weeks–neither his fault, both putting him in high risk. That one, near the eye? Two wars, two men off in them. That one? A daughter in surgery, deepened later by her delivering a baby.

You know, when you get down to it, the face is a road map of a life. And some marketing mongul wants me to erase that? No, I think not.

My birthday wish: May all of you realize your dreams, hold in your hearts that which makes you happy, and in the mirror see your road map reflecting a full life well lived.



Vicki Hinze


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