This summer, August 28 to be exact, I will be 40 years old. A nice round number, as I've have taken to saying lately.
A couple of days ago I was recalling my Mother turning 40. We were living in Vancouver, Washington in a old rambling apartment building that served a lot of low-income residents my Mother was the manager of. It had a collection of strange and interesting people that I would hang out with.
Several of my Mother's friends got together and threw a surprise birthday party for her despite her express wishes to entirely ignore the occasion. She was depressed about where she was in life and she hated her body (I'm sure she has always hated her body to some degree or the other).
I recall her crying. Not in joy or delight that her friends and family so wanted to honor her that they threw the party anyway, but in abject misery. I remember her laughter that bordered on hysteria throughout the event and the hard, sharp words she had later when everyone had left.
As I'm approaching this point in my own life I've come to realize that the older I get the more uncertain I feel. During the Dharma talk tonight Chozen asked us all what age we feel like in our minds. It occurred to me that lately I tend to feel somewhere between 9 to 14 and painfully aware of my uncertainty about ever attaining the state of being a so-called "grown up".
I don't know that I've become more comfortable with the uncertainty, I'd like to think that I have. What I do know is that I'm not approaching 40 with the same level of dread and horror as my Mother. I know that I want to great that occasion with a deep appreciation for my life, how far I've come. In a way it is just one more instance where my Mother has shown me the way by providing an example of what not to do.
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