Celebrating Getting Older
Be Right Where You Are.
Turning 40 can be a sensitive time for a lot of people, and whether you‘re a man or a woman, getting older tends to make you stop and take stock. If your partner, friend or family member is getting ready to hit the big 4-0, putting a little extra thought into celebrating this special day is worth the effort. Whether you buy in to the whole idea of bench marks or not, they're all around us. That math genius that finished college at twelve, or all those fresh faced dot com geniuses that have retired before they can legally run for president seem to announce a world of the young. But age brings something that youth will never have; you’re wiser, saltier, more settled and you know what you know. So this year, think about throwing a real grown-up get together that’s less about numbers and more about celebrating being right where you are.
Now, forty may not be a significant age for some people, for some it could be thirty or fifty. But, you're never too young or too old to do a little reflecting. So whatever number seems to chime the bell for you, don't turn your back on it. Face it, and get some work done.
It's perfectly acceptable to have a birthday dinner at a local restaurant, where the invitees will be asked to pay for their own meals. Make your birthday get-together more about the idea of a free meal and more along the lines of bringing together a small group for a more low-key, grown up celebration. It's also the perfect time to take a look at the people around you and ask yourself what you've learned from them and vice-versa. If we're to believe the Course In Miracles concept of all relationships being assignments, it could be refreshing to see the different phases of your life reflected by the people you've manifested to help you through them. Stop and ask yourself "who was I when I met John?", "what was I going through when I became friends with Mary?" Your lessons are right there in front of you, so gather your textbooks together and do a little reviewing.
A person entering their forties is probably conscious of what they like and what they don't like. Chances are they have just about everything they want, so turn to the little things to make the day special. When choosing a gift, zero in on their passions and stay away from those gifts that speak to their assumed roles in life. Getting older, consciously, means gradually letting go of those roles that we think define us. Father, dentist, teacher, or even "spiritual" can be titles that can make us adapt to an outside image of those things. A collector might love a valuable piece to add to their collection, a traveler would appreciate paid classes of a foreign language course. If you're familiar with their personal space at home, think about a piece of art that would liven up the walls. Preparing a favorite meal for a sit-down dinner with their closest friends could be the hit of the night. So, think about giving gifts that feed the soul, and help them celebrate who they really are.
When planning the activities for your celebration, think about honoring the center of attention by having everyone recall a moment when they have been affected by the birthday girl or guy. Take turns sharing stories that illustrate how you learned something from each other and how that has brought you to this place and time. It may sound a little like a memorial service, but we can't always assume that people know how we feel, so say it. It may even clear up a few misconceptions. Even if the revelations aren't always saccharine, there's a reason that Thoreau said "Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth", it may sting a little, but it's good stuff.
Okay, so there are no ballons, "no pin the tail on the donkey" and no party hats (unless you want them of course), but what you do have is a group of folks who have taken off the masks for an evening of some good old fashioned soul-to-soul. And when it comes down to it, with every year that passes, that's what feeds us. What I choose to celebrate is changing, and knowing exactly where and who I am is more important than ever. While I'm far from being "enlightened", I'm a little closer to knowing what's what, and getting older is one thing that I welcome with open arms, and a lot of celebrating.