I find it hard to fathom that one more year has blown by and I’ve tacked on another 365 days worth of eating way too much, sleeping way too little and spending countless hours attempting to teach my dog to talk. Funny enough, I’m sensing the future will be much of the same. I’m not big on change and everyone agrees that the hound is making forward progress with his sibilance.
I mentioned last year how one of the first things I do when waking on my birthday is to take stock.
Acknowledge things that work: check.
Acknowledge things that don’t: check.
Acknowledge things that squeak … yeah, that one is a growing list, but … check.
There were times in my life when making a splash with my birthday was worthy of planning and fuss, but the older I grow the more I often feel that this yearly rite is more enjoyable as an inner nod to the growing number of trips I’ve made around our sun.
The way I look at it is that it’s similar to an amusement ride we’re all sharing and none of us can get off. Ever. Lungs taking in air or not, the ticket was purchased and has no foreseeable expiration date.
And although there may be times when we feel dizzy from the speed, overcome with exhaustion from hanging on, and close our eyes to what’s become a blur as we round another corner, this yearly journey is also filled with flashes of sheer exhilaration, eye-opening perspectives, and heart stopping moments that bring you to your knees and fill you with unimaginable gratitude.
I think back to those first remembered birthdays—the ones filled with confetti cake, sugared air and ribboned boxes—and try to conjure up the innocence. Like the sweetest of berries and the most ambrosial fruit, the years of childhood are delicate, and their flavors, fleeting and rapturous, leave you wishing it was possible to preserve them, lovingly labeled in six ounce jam jars, safeguarded in the pantry for blustery, bone-chilling nights.
Once we’ve emerged from the cradle of youth, we begin ticking the boxes of societal benchmarks, placing an ever increasing amount of importance on a yardstick that has been whittled partly by time grown wisdom and the rest by Hallmark and overly invasive but overwhelming successful marketing campaigns.
A teenager at last!
Now that you’re an adult …
Twenty-one! Let’s have some fun!
The big ‘3-oh,’ the big ‘4-oh,’ … HALF A CENTURY?!
But there’s still all that middle ground that needs to be covered, all the numbers not snazzy enough to be grandly celebrated, fussed over, or worried about. Thirty-four and sixty-two and fourteen are pretty “blah” digits that have no dedicated section in the greeting card isle, but should that make them any less significant? Any less worthy?
Maybe someone could make the argument that distinction is a good thing, that if every birthday were a monumental celebration, they might not feel so monumental any longer. Maybe we need the milestones to bring a flavorful variance to the day. Maybe having your favorite black-out, chocolate chunk, chocolate cake every day sounds like a great idea until about day six or seven when black-out becomes cross-out and cross-eyed.
I might just have to offer myself up to science on behalf of us all to test the theory. It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’m sure it would make a fascinating read in one of the fancier periodicals like The New England Journal of Medicine Specifically Related to the Cacao Bean, or maybe peer reviewed in Nature and Science and Chocolate.
I’ll keep everyone posted for its release.
Regardless, what I find more important with each passing year is the resolve to be fully present. And although this has nothing to do with bow-tied boxes, it has everything to do with gifts.
I want to notice more within each flip of the calendar month, each crossed off master task list day, and each fleeting moment that combines together to create them all.
I want to steep myself within the joy, marinate inside the fear, fester around in turbulent anger, bubble about within surprise.
And by doing so, I feel I’ve made a marvelous feast of a life. In fact, I long ago tossed out the powdery confetti cake in favor of its unctuous chocolate replacement. But it’s not just a chocolate cake anymore; this cake is drizzled with blissful caramel, mixed in with tooth-cracking toffee, spiced with hot-headed cayenne, and packs a bombshell number of calories. Is it clear? Joy, fear, anger and surprise? It’s all mixed in together. It’s the sum parts of my whole year baked into a forkful or two. Or five.
They are put together for a reason: so I remember to take it all in. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
They are the ingredients of life.
And they are worthy.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott’s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.
- Electrons accelerated on the wildest roller coaster on Earth (arstechnica.com)
- This Cake is Better Than Sex (1600cupcakes.wordpress.com)
14 thoughts on “A recipe for a delectable life.”
Yes, yes,YES, I’ll have what you’re having, including, the mindfulness, and especially the cake! Happy Birthday!
Thank you, for the kind wishes, Ardy. Barbara’s husband Jim has a birthday policy that I adopted a couple years ago and makes perfect sense for where I am in life: if you can’t drink it, eat it or read it, I don’t want it. Cake definitely falls into that category.
You and I have taken stock in more similar life experiences than most people I know. Travel, languages, gastronomic joys and ponderings… ah life, “vivere la vita al massimo!” And, for the most part, I believe we have. I’m quite sure you have.
Let’s see, we both flown overseas in super cool planes; 1) you, a comfortable leather seat on the Concord, me, a leather mat thrown down on the floor next to a M1A tank on a the military’s C-5 Galaxy, 2) you’ve experienced Alain Ducasse’s “Le Jules Vernes” on the Effiel Tower, me, I’ve did prep for him at the CIA during school and once saw a picture of the Effel Tower, 3) you’ve worked at and helped make some of the worlds greatest scotches while in Scotland, me, I’ve consumed a few bottles prior forty, but no more. You get my point.
“…eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in…
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
Both intimate and ultimate,
And you will be heart-shaken and respectful.” – Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems
(Google and read it, what a great poem).
When you leave, I would think the song that will accompany your life discription will be “Con te partirò.”
Happy birthday Shells,
Beautiful sentiments. Some a little eye-opening. Yep, we’ve done a bucket-load thus far, but you and I are not yet finished. There is more to eat, more to drink (alcoholic or not), more to see and much left to read. Like all of your references for instances. I’ve got more books waiting for me at my local library branch than I’ve had hot dinners. I’m thinking about taking up residency in the stacks after I post simply to be ready for your comments.
Regardless, there is most importantly, much humor to create and enjoy. I hope we can keep one another chuckling for another go round. Up for it?
Yeah, me too.
Love you, buddly.
Happy birthday Shelley! Your words always fills me with joy & contentment. 🙂
I think you’re very lucky. CAKE always fills me with joy and contentment. Your way has far fewer calories.
😉 Many, many thanks for the lovely compliment and wishes.
Very nice……..almost makes me look forward to my unremarkable 47th coming up soooooon. Cheers and many happy returns of the day!
I say we start campaigning for the oddball years. We must put some magic into those overlooked digits. After all, 47 is a PRIME NUMBER!
Happy birthday to the Diva! Cheers 😉
Gorgeous and honest. I’ve a birthday coming up and this has certainly reminded me of how to keep a positive perspective. Thanks!
Don’t forget, positive perspectives are thrillingly enhanced with the addition of cake. 😉 Happy Birthday to you!
Love the dog. I can see him/her happily agreeing with whatever his Human Companion says. They are great!
I love the dog too, although since he is head and shoulders above my level of intelligence, it’s usually me agreeing with what HE says. I’d follow him anywhere. Haggis is my guy.
Hehe. We could learn a lot from dogs. Come on–who really runs a dog-centric household?
That question has been posed to me more times than I’ve had hot dinners. I need therapy. And that’s the statement suggested to me with equal frequency. 😉