This morning, I finished a new spoken word piece called Turning 40. Spoken word is the performance art of poetry, so it translates better in person verses on the page, but here it is anyway :)
Also, it’s worth mentioning that in my spoken word repertoire, this piece is by far the shortest. But sometimes, short and sweet and to the point just makes good sense.
I’m not interested in towing the heavy, lead-laden line given to me by those who’ve come before. The one that says I shouldn’t be on good terms with aging – ya know, the one that says I should pretend to be some other age than I actually am and would do well to color up over all this grey hair coming in.
The one that says I should learn creative ways to outstretch my neck or gain an affinity for scarves to cover up the fact that I have folds and that I lose my sexual allure the further I drift from the shores of 18.
You’re welcome to keep towing that line but I’m not interested. I am setting it down, in favor of something…more.
I wanna tow the line that says aging is part of life and not separate; I wanna end the drama filled strife by pursuing a life based on responses and not reactions; I wanna water the seeds of mad love for the whole of things and not split it up into fractions; and I wanna swim naked in the waters of whatever age I’m kicking in and embrace my body, the whole damn thing.
cuz there ain’t no shame in not being a size 2, there’s shame in playing the beauty-looks-like-this game that no one wins. I’m fixin’ to tow a different line, saddle up if you’re in cuz I’m not sweatin’ turning 40, I’ve been enjoying the ride since 1979 and I love this mixed-bag world – and for what it’s worth, I’m interested in towing the line of being more than a pretty girl.
Last week I turned 38 years old. On the eve of my birthday, a sangha friend passed away. Alison Matthews, age 63.
63 is an age generally considered to be on the younger side of someone passing away. 63 is not old age. I am continually reminded about the preciousness of life, especially in the wake of others who have passed on. Earlier today, I was visiting with a hospice patient. During our weekly visits, I’ve taken to bringing a newspaper with me and reading aloud the news. As I was reading the Today In History section I came across this: In 1937, American composer and pianist George Gershwin died at a Los Angeles hospital of a brain tumor; he was 38.
One never knows when our time will expire. So often, we live as though we have a limitless supply of time. In reading world news and local obituaries, however, I routinely come across people who’ve died at all ages and stages in their life. For me, this serves as an important reminder: there’s no guarantee that we will see old age. And that applies to myself, as well as my beloved family and friends.
Being in touch with death and dying keeps me in close contact with my gratitude for life. Volunteering with hospice affords me the opportunity to train in the art of living life well, with however much time I have. And I am deeply touched and nourished by all of the patients I have the honor and privilege to meet with, who serve as my teachers in this regard.
My stepson Jaden, picture above, turns 16 years old today! In celebration of him I wrote this little verse:
16 Things I love About Jaden
I love how caring & considerate Jaden is – like the time we were collecting money to sponsor a Buddha statue at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas and he decided, on his own accord, to donate some of the money he had saved up
I love how many random bits of knowledge he knows – like the time when he was quite young and picked up the talking stick at meditation one night during our sharing circle to offer these 7 sound words, “Bananas are a great source of potassium.”
I love how our senses of humor make sense to one another and that our sarcastic natures are well tuned together, but know when to settle down too
I love his creativity and how for years the only thing he’d ever ask that we buy for him were certain colors of pipecleaners
I love his imagination and his ability to put his colorful thoughts into words
I love his ability to look at things deeply and gain insight
I love how in the morning when both cats come to sit with him while he eats breakfast instead of shooing them away he shares his chair with one, to the point of having only a sliver of it to himself, and lets the other one wrap around the table beside him, which sometimes means he has a fuzzy tail in his cereal bowl
I love how when a good song comes on when we’re driving he and I can crank it up and dance
I love that he has a good sense for who he is without being easily swayed
I love that he has genuine concern for and interest in others and asks how people are doing and how their day was
I love that he knows how to be present and looks people in the eye
I love that he has developed the ability to go with the flow with a gladdened state of mind
I love that he wouldn’t think to text someone at the dinner table because he knows it’s not the appropriate time
I love his open mindedness and how he’s not quick to be too sure of something
I love his impression of Napoleon Dynamite
But most of all I love that on November 8th he was born into my life, and a better stepson I could not find – so to end with a lyric by Prince about the year Jaden was born, let’s party like it’s 1999 :)
Today is the Day!
Today is the day to look back over silly pictures I’ve taken of myself with (slightly manic but super well intentioned) popsicle stick friends named Ernesto
Today is the day to smile a smile so bright that its light enfolds into that of the sun’s and becomes one (I mean, we are made of the same stuff after all so I think it’s doable)
Today is the day to be filled with immense gratitude for every big & little thing I am so generously afforded (like hair clips, a refrigerator filled with food, and wi-fi)
Today is the best day because I am alive on this grand design of a planet co-mingling with every breath of every being in every moment (yes!)