When I was a kid, I really liked my January birthday. My birthday parties were usually tobaggoning, or skating on the duck pond at the park near our house, or, if the weather was prohibitive, bowling. More importantly, if Santa didn't quite get the message that, no, really, I DID want an Easy Bake Oven above everything else on the list, I always had the birthday ask to fall back on. Sort of a gift insurance policy.
In my teens and early twenties, I became less keen on it. People - myself included - are still recovering from the over-indulgences and over-expenditures of the holidays, and are usually not into celebrating one more time. It's cold out, the resolutions are still in full force, and we're in hibernation mode until spring. Humbug, birthday-style.
My birthday is less of a big deal nowadays, and I find that it sneaks up on me more than it used to. I don't think about it too much in terms of a celebration, but the one thing I do like about my birthdate is the new-ness of it: new year, new age for me. I don't make New Year's resolutions. But I do tend to spend the 16 days between New Year's Day and today reflecting on what's next for me, and this year is no exception.
Our recent trip to Arizona and the amount of time we spent with people well into their "golden years" there has coloured this reflection for me this year. While I'm still many years away from my own retirement, spending so much time with people in theirs really got me thinking about it. People say all the time that they never want to get old, but I don't think it's the getting old chronologically that is the problem. Though I'm not keen on the idea of getting old physically, I'm not as concerned about that, either. I think for me it's that I never want to stop learning and, perhaps more importantly, I never want to stop wanting to learn. I think that maybe the secret to the Fountain of Youth is actually not the fountain, but the search for it: not the water, but the thirst.
And so, this year:
I will learn to knit toe-up socks. I've knit zillions of socks, but they've all been top down.
I will actually take the time to check gauge, measure, count, not fudge sleeve measurements, and do everything else necessary to knit a successful sweater for myself, a project that, in almost 10 years of knitting, I have yet to accomplish.
I will learn to golf. Kevin loves to golf, and has dreams of us golfing together when it's our turn to take advantage of the seniors' discounts. For the many years until then, I also think the game will be very good for me: the facts are that I do not like being Not-Good at things, and I will most likely be Not-Good at golf for a good long time. I think it will help me learn patience, and self-acceptance, and be a good counterbalance to my perfectionist tendencies. (Please remind me of this the first time I post with much profanity about how much I hate the stupid game and what I did to my stupid clubs on the stupid course because the stupid ball won't do as it's told.)
And more often, I will keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut.
I want to grow old without growing up. I want to stay young in my mind and in my heart, and keep a sense of wonder about the world. I want to stay humble about my knowledge, and always thirsty for more. And I will start as I mean to go on.
Happy New Year.