Tomorrow is my birthday. I will officially be 70 years old! So today I can't help but look back over my shoulder to observe the path I've taken. Born in 1944 during the final days of World War II, I think was clearly a premonition that my life would be one of turmoil as well as peace.
Although these two dichotomies are at the extreme ends on the living continuum, I've experienced varying degrees of both throughout my lifetime thus far. Supposedly one would believe that I'd have relished the good times, prayed for them to keep coming, and do everything in my power to avoid the negative ones. And for the most part, that's true. While living through pain and suffering, I oftentimes railed against my God, asking 'why me,' and having the audacity to raise my fists in futile defiance. At other moments I simply bowed my head in grudging submission and allowed the miseries to overtake me. From an early age, depression became my constant companion although since being so young, I was completely unaware of the nature of this hideous malady and what could be done to alleviate it.
And so I lived day-to-day, year-to-year, going about the business of wading through my childhood, being a teen, getting a college education, becoming a teacher, finding and marrying the love of my life, giving birth to three great kids, solidifying a career, reaching retirement, and embarking on a second avocation as an emerging author of children's books at the ripe old age of sixty-eight.
What I discovered over the years is that without the turmoil, my journey would have been quite boring and without much merit. I wouldn't have attained nearly half of my accomplishments without the struggle and defeat I'd endured along the way. There would have been little to no motivation to continue striving for more. Since I would have been at peace with what I'd already done, there would have been no need to pursue much else. Had there only been a continual sense of calm, today I would be a little old lady content to sit in the proverbial rocking chair waiting for the angels to transport me to that heavenly kingdom in the sky.
But because of my struggles, at 70, I'm a vibrant, active, opinionated woman who continues to seek out new ways to reinvent herself. I have no desire to rest on my laurels, I have no desire to be transported anywhere, and I have no desire to end my journey anytime soon.
Of course, I'm thankful for the peace I've enjoyed over these many years. I wouldn't be the person I am without having experienced the euphoria that comes with the glorious feelings of utter contentment. Peace has certainly propelled me on my life's path.
But I must give a shout-out to all the conflict and pain I've been privileged to bear. It is precisely the very adversity I've met along the way, and had the strength and courage to overcome, that has made me the happiest and most proud. "I am woman, hear me roar!" When my final day does arrive, even though I plan to be cremated, I want those words engraved on a plaque and hung along side a picture of my smiling, mischievous face.
After having looked back over my shoulder on the past, I've set my sights forward, and am excited about what lies ahead in the future. I'm determined to be around for at least another 30 years, give or take. So deal with it!
Happy birthday to me!