I celebrated my 70th birthday yesterday. My family hosted a lovely party to which people I love came on a beautiful fall afternoon. It was a truly special day for me.
My family gave me a hot-air balloon ride, something that has been on my bucket list ever since Bernie and I witnessed a lift in Albuquerque NM a good ten years ago. I hope we can do it in about two weeks when the colors are at their peak in middle Minnesota.
This morning I was pondering the importance of this birthday. Ten-year birthdays are important in some way. I remember when I turned 40. I went on a personal retreat and did a lot of reflecting on my life up to that point and pondered what I would do with the rest of it. I thought eighty years on earth is a good long time to be here so I figured if I were so lucky to live that long, 40 was half point. I made a list of things I would still like to accomplish in those years. The only thing I remember is “work in a jail”. I did, in fact, manage to do that. I probably didn’t put on my list to get help for my addiction, but I did, in fact, do that, too.
I can’t remember whether for my 50th and 60th I made any lists and I don’t feel inclined to make a list now at 70. I can’t imagine what I would put on it. I know I wouldn’t put anything about changing habits. I have learned that making resolutions never works. Habits are changed by acting differently when one is faced with a choice and you can’t anticipate those moments of choice. For example, sitting in a restaurant, I can choose from the menu an item that will serve my body well or harm it in some way. Making the wrong choice contributes to the forming of a bad habit, a right choice contributes to the forming of a good one. But I have to leave it there. A new habit will not really form unless I make a similar choice (good or bad) the next time. It is all about living in the moment, doing the next right thing. Change happens but the only control I have is that which I exert in this moment.
If I made a list, would I put on it things I want to do such as a trip to some exotic place? I have had such things on my list before. A hot-air balloon ride is one example. But I have this thing called an aging body right now that is causing me to pause. When I suffer pain related to the degeneration of my skeletal system, I ask myself, “Would you take a long trip in an airplane right now?” And then I ask myself, “What if your health were such that you could never take a long distance trip again?” I know there are people right now living in situations where they know they will never see their loved ones again unless their loved ones come to them. I have pondered this once in a while while walking out in the morning to greet the sun as I like to do. I look around at the trees and listen to the birds in their branches or the cows down the road begging the farmer to hurry up and get to his chores. I feel the air that carries the seasonal aromas to me. “If this little place were all I had, could I live with it?” My answer is “yes” only if I can take in that very moment as the most beautiful place on earth this very moment. Here…now. If I think about all the place I would like to visit or the things I want to accomplish, the answer is a definite “no”.
I think I am starting to get it.
This is what I will put on my list as I turn a new decade in my life for the 7th time: I want to earn to live in the moment so fully that whatever the earth is offering at any given space of time would be enough to fill me up. I have to realize that no matter what adventurous experience I put on my calendar, it can be taken away by any little thing. Then I will find myself having to decide whether to find happiness for whatever takes its place. If I learn my lesson well, it won’t matter. “Bloom where you are planted”. This is where I am planted. Here…now.
A friend, another Judy, who came to my party yesterday told me that she had once gone up in a hot-air balloon. I asked her what it was like. She said, “I was very peaceful. I didn’t feel like I was moving because we were going with the wind instead of resisting it. The only way I knew we were moving was to look down at the earth passing by below.”
Peace – found when you go with the wind. There you have it.