It’s my birthday today. And birthdays are that interesting beast of reflection, life planning, and terrible hangovers.
I’ve made it to 35 so far. 35 is a funny age. Mid-thirties. Maybe the start of middle-age. The time you probably should have got your shit together, or at least pretend it’s so. The life stage of career / career break; marriage / no marriage; babies / no babies; mortgage / no mortgage; good times / and seemingly much more serious times.
Decisions-a-plenty whether you like it or not.
It feels like a seminal point in time for me, deciding which pathway to take which will ultimately shape the fabric of this life as I know it forever.
I guess birthday reflection is because the magnifying glass of mortality is directed positioned over our lives, loves, regrets and passions. Realising things we haven’t achieved as yet, squinting into the future for answers.
It’s something of a running joke amongst friends that my obsession with life and death (translation = acute fear of) has led me to live a life planned up to the hilt – every ounce of spare time stuffed with purpose, meaning and fun. In fact it’s so ridiculous the planning, is that when suddenly a pocket of time appears unplanned, I feel bereft. At a loss of what to do with myself. My sister said at these times just do nothing and relax for the soul. Just that – nothing (said with intense anxiety and FOMO taking grip).
I guess what makes this thing called life fun is the reality that, we’re still getting to know ourselves – changing tastes, values and opinions, which change by the hour, heck by the minute which is part of the rollercoaster I suppose.
One thing that helps me to lead this life to the fullest, is this little exercise which I do quite regularly to help me make those big decisions. I like to call it something jolly like my Deathbed Reflection, but you might want to call it something quite so intense.
Go all the way to the end of your life. Imagine yourself looking back at the life you’ve lived. All the joy and pain and love and laughs. Is there anything you wish you’d done? Any regrets? Things you’d wish you’d said given the chance? Doing Something for someone elses happiness? Experiences that would have given you just a little more fulfilment and bringing a little more goodness into the world. And these can be as small as telling a friend how much they mean to you, to as huge as deciding to start a family.
And imagine, in that moment at the end of this life, you felt regret not doing that thing, so go happily into that decision now knowing it’s the right thing to do for the happiness of your life.
So as I get older, and continue to jam experiences into every nook and cranny my sisters words ring truer in my ears. I have begun to recognise that actually to take the foot off the gas is essential, and allowing the body, mind, soul to have some downtime is an equally important experience as zip-lining 750ft above the ground in Costa Rica (no jokes – happened 3 days ago as I write this post on a boat travelling to the Nicoya Peninsula).
So then how about this? Birthdays as a festival of celebration – a big self-HAZAAR for making it this far and hopefully having some joy along the way,,,making the best decisions you can as each birthday arrives, and enjoying the new unknowns thrown into your path along the way.
Such is life.