On Growing Older

It’s my birthday today. And I spent a good minute just looking at myself in the mirror. I moved closer to the mirror. That line on my left eye might be new. Maybe? I got so close I became blurry. Smudges of color. Then I pulled away and smiled. Nothing too scary. Nothing too different from yesterday. No change drastic enough to signify that a year passed by in one night. But somehow, in the matter of a day I went from one year younger to one year older.

Time is funny like that. We use words to describe its passage, words to parse it out: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. But when we step back, they all just sort of run into each other.

Looking back on my life so far there are minutes that pop out at me, days that loom large in my memory, and months that were memorable. But when I pull away, the further I get from those moments, the best way for me to think about it is in smudges.

As a child all I ever asked for on birthday lists, christmas lists, random present lists, was a horse. I ran around in skirts and cowboy boots. I wanted to be like Laura Ingalls Wilder. In my adolescent and teen years I traded skirts for baggy pants and pop music, thought of boys as something more than people to beat in a foot race, fell in love, and had my heart broken. In my twenties I finished university, got married, felt lost, and then began to search for some kind of meaning. And now, in my thirties, I feel calmer. I’m in a goal oriented mode. I have things I want to accomplish and I’m feeling driven enough to complete them. Four decades, four lines, four smudges in a detail rich life.

If I were to take one important moment from any year in my life I could probably tell you what specifically happened on that day. What it did to my psyche. Why it made me who I am in this moment. But when I look at one day in the bigger picture, it is like a pixel in a photo. A paintbrush stroke on a canvas. A new line on smooth skin. Equally beautiful to examine on its own, but when you look at the whole thing it becomes amazing.

That’s how I’ve decided to look at my life so far. Several brush strokes on a canvas unfinished. Each moment adding to a picture I’m excited to see finished, but happier to be painting.

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