A week from now, I will be on the other side of yet another birthday, an unremarkable number this time. Many years ago, when I wrote just such a post in the countdown to my birthday, a blogger/reader-friend joked that I was doing it on purpose to remind people to send me gifts. I’ve come a long way from there now and I’m not coy about wanting things from people, anymore. Yes, dear reader, fellow human on this planet, if you read this post through to the end, if you’ve ever enjoyed any of my other posts, please drop back in on the 13th of July and wish me a very happy birthday.
I went through a phase of wondering what good birthday greetings were, other than paying lip service and mouthing platitudes. But I’ve now come to believe in the power of declaration, the magic of words. Words give tangible form to the pure potential of thought. Sound gives them fuel to run out into the world and touch ears and minds and hearts. These could set the gears of emotion, the wheels of attitude turning and shape actions that change the future. I want a lot of good wishes, please. Gifts too, if you don’t mind. I am partial to books (fiction), comics, funky-inexpensive jewellery, unusual accessories, wine and red lipstick.
Thirty-four always felt like the foggy beginnings of a grey area that I could not quite see past, in my twenty-year plans. 34 is too far from the drama of the decade milestones of 30 and 40. 34 isn’t as cool as 32, which is when you’re legitimately qualified to say things like ‘Life begins at 30!’. It doesn’t have the suburban respectability or the mathematical precision of 35 that lets you carry an image of a life that’s been smoothed of kinks and is ready to run. Thirty-four is very gray.
I think what sets this apart from the other birthdays in my life is that, for the first time, I have little to no desire to dredge up the past and examine it, for validation, for perusal of what got missed. The past feels well and truly done with. I’ve written about not feeling a certain age when I approach it. This time, that’s not true. I feel 34 because I’ve lived every minute up until this time. I may not have done it in the ‘proper’ way, having sleepwalked through the 20s, then speed-dialed through the 30s so far. But all ground has been covered and I’m standing here at the threshold of this new doorframe that has the number 34 nailed onto it. All parts of me, slightly used mind, rather more battered heart, relationships, memories, attitudes all clear and present and standing here with me.
I have a sort of idea of what this final week is going to look like. A few meetings, some loose ends to be tied up. And then, on Friday, I walk into the Landmark Forum. I first did the Forum in 1999, then reviewed it in 2008 when a friend was training to be a Forum Leader & wanted a graduate review. Now I go back for another review because it feels like the thing to do. I don’t mind admitting that the fact that my birthday falls right in the middle of this 3-and-half day program had something to do with my decision. Of all the things that have happened since 1999, the Landmark Forum is the one thing I’ve been able to count on to really charge me up. It’s just what I’m missing right now so this Landmark Forum is my birthday gift to myself.
I’m going to come out on the other side of 34, a freshly minted Landmark graduate and I’m hoping, grey is a colour that will feel inspiring rather than daunting. Wish me luck and come back in a week to wish me more and better!