The last few years I have felt unsettled on the lead-up to my birthday. I can’t pinpoint exactly why: it’s a day extra, not a mountain to be climbed: but for a few days before my birthday each year, I feel apprehensive. I have no fears about aging, nor any real worries about how my body is behaving (though there are definite areas where surgical intervention would be welcomed). More it is a sense of “it’s getting later: have I done and been silly enough? Is there something more and else I should be embracing? Is there enough music and food and warmth and love and adventure?”
Should I be doing more about ‘getting a life’?
sofamother once said something smart (ok, more than once). We were discussing some friends of mine I felt had let me down and she said: “enjoy the parts of the friendship that are available to enjoy. Leave the rest.” We’d agreed that there were shoulds that should be part of the fabric of friendship – and agreed again on how seldom those shoulds are met. But the truth of it is; other people aren’t even aware of the shoulds that we attach to our relationships with them. Even if they should be. “But that’s ok” – is what Glennie was saying: “take joy in what works. Let go of what doesn’t. And spend that time finding joy in something else.”
So – in honour of that wise old bat – I thought I should stop with the shoulds. And start with what works for me right now:
– my birthday dinner, prepared by the Nans and sofabrother. Roast Chicken with the trimmings. Carrot birthday cake and a cocktail. Sweet, carefully considered, and given-with-love gifts. Jack munching chicken bones at our feet, donated to him on the sly because he loves them. Eaten happily by the furball – even though we all know he will be itchyscratching tomorrow.
– our home and it’s light, warmth and space enough for the family. And then our other home in a valley on the fringes of a desert – where we will spend the next few days doing wacky wine weekend things.
– the knowledge that sofaparents are moving up to Cape Town soon and will be staying with us until they find somewhere to roost. We will have our popper and granny close. How nice is that?
– the news that my niece Emily (aka Loulou) and her mom Jackie are coming to visit in August from London. We’re all so excited. Hannah Darcy is already thinking of things we ‘can do as a family’ to make Lou feel welcome. So far we plan to: bake a giant cake together and invite Jackie for tea, pick out some pretty new linen for Lou’s bed, and on sleep-over Friday, go to ‘Markie’s restaurant’ for pizza.
– the incomparable Jack – makes me laugh every day.
– and the rest: I have most excellent friends on many shores, great work, money enough, and health and possibility and options.
Not a bad list for an apprehensive old bird. And one that’s worth remembering when the fear monkeys start scratching. So – here’s my promise to myself for the year to come: I will canter down the field with my tail in the air. And my racing name will be “Resolute Optimism”.
Birthday apprehension be damned; turn up the music and mix me a cocktail.
(*Phrase borrowed from Ken “Magic Eye” Howard – legendary Australian Horse Racing commentator. All images copyright campari&sofa. Except for the laughing horse, found in the public domain.)