This past week I hit the big 60. Starting from last weekend, it has been a whole week of celebrations. Last weekend my children met us at a beach house near Santa Cruz for several days of fun, good food, good music, and lots of laughs. I saw dolphins swimming, collected sand dollars, walked for miles on the sand with Ron, and listened to the waves lull me to sleep at night. My children are luminous and exceptional and I can barely believe I raised these people and that we have been blessed to have Akili’s fiancée Tina join our family. These children of mine, my family life, is more than I ever imagined for myself as a girl. Spending time with my children always makes me feel grateful, blessed, and accomplished.
The festivities continued beyond the weekend with the children. On my actual birthday, Ron and I took the money sent to us by a friend as a birthday gift and went out to eat at my favorite restaurant. Yesterday a group of about 20 close friends came over for a potluck dinner. A few special friends even drove up from the Bay Area. I felt completely loved and extremely fortunate. Such terrific people have populated the narrative of my life for all of my 60 years. Where did all these folks come from to share this wondrous existence with me?
While we were at the beach, Yael asked me if I feel 60. I told her it amazes me that many things that I experienced as a child are a matter of historical record. They happened 50 years ago, for goodness sake. I remember having baked goods delivered to our front door by a guy in a horse-drawn carriage. We got bottled milk with the cream on top left in a metal box on the porch. There are many times when I forget what I look like, that I look like a 60-year-old lady, more especially so since my hair went prematurely gray and I don’t dye it. At times I feel on the inside the way I felt at 30 or 40 or even 50, forgetting how much I have aged in appearance. Then I step back and consider how I look to strangers. What assumptions do they make about me?
At times I feel disappointed that so few of my books have come to fruition through publication. I suppose that is the big regret of my life. I continue to submit query letters to publishers when I can eke out the time to do so. The rejections still flow back to me. I will keep at it. For the past year I have not written any fiction. I used all my spare time to work on my nutrition studies and I have now completed all the course work. I just have to take the final exam and do my internship to get my certification. The other day I read through the first section of a novel I started writing before my writing hiatus began a year ago. A year is a long time to stay away from creative writing. I once again feel incomplete without writing fiction. I need to get back to it as soon as possible, whether or not anyone ever reads my words.
Ironically, after investing a year in training to become a nutritionist so that I could have a stable retirement profession, my grants work has exploded. This will be a banner year for me. It’s hard to consider backing off the grants work when it’s so lucrative and forthcoming. In the meantime, I have developed a passion for nutrition and am eager to use what I have learned to help people improve their health. Consequently, I now have a variety of interesting directions to choose from in my journey. Which direction I head in is still hidden in the mists. I’ll figure it out eventually.
One of the birthday cards I received said that 60 is a good time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors over a lifetime and to reap the benefits of all that one has built for oneself over the years. Perhaps that’s the norm. But I have ever functioned outside the norm. I can’t merely sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labors when I have so many labors ahead of me still in the works. I can do it to some extent, but I don’t thrive on limited productivity. I have things to do. I have reached 60, folks, but don’t be fooled: I am just getting started.
Here's a photo of me at Pajaro Dunes on the Pacific Coast last weekend, taken by Yael.
I'm a little windblown but content in the company of my children, my husband, and the ocean.