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On 40, Or How to Love Your Life

Well, yesterday was my birthday.

Not just any birthday. The big 4-0.

That’s it. According to some I am leaving my youth as I know it behind me. Reached the peak and now it is maybe a plateau before the downhill roll. But not according to me.

No, not according to me.

As we are moving, living, breathing; as we are actively thinking, embracing challenges, and stepping up those ladder rungs; as we do all of that – there is no “aging depression”. There is no downhill slope. There is only greater, more, higher. There are new goals, new horizons, and new perspectives. There is learning, always more learning. And where there exists all these things, there is no limit of age. There is, however, explosive energy, irrepressible happiness, contagious ambition. Going after the dream. And then, when you achieve it, going after the next one.

That is life. That is LIVING. Our age does not define us, unless we let it. Our age…our age is a badge we wear on our breast – this is how many years of living I have enjoyed. It says “Think of all I have accomplished" by the greatness of the number.

It is NOT a countdown.

I had a memorable client come to me at the PT clinic I worked at in the States one summer. He was a fit and lean 70 something year old. He was taking classes in college and playing tennis regularly. He was in incredible shape. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It was inspiring to talk to him, to watch him. Living.

Some people think, yeah, well, it is easy for some to age happily. It is easy for some to take it with grace. They don’t suffer. They don’t have real hardship. They don’t have what I have in my life.

Sorry, but I don’t know of anyone who does not suffer. Anyone that does not know hardship, intimately. They don’t have your life, but they have theirs.

You know what I heard from a 20 year old suffering from Cystic Fibrosis? He’d been in and out of hospitals regularly all of his life. Breathing was a feat, every minute of every day. Coughing was more natural than not coughing. AND he had two brothers with a rare anomaly that had them leading mentally handicapped lives. And his family was struggling financially. He had his share of burdens and then some. And you know what I heard from him? In a speech he gave in front of an audience of thousands, he said: “And if everyone put their peckele (package literally, burdens in context) in the middle of the table, I would still take back my own.” Tears well up even now. Bravery, we thought, Courage. But more so, Wisdom. The challenges we are each given are our own, to claim with pride for the unique messages they teach us. This young man saw that. There is no life without challenges. But we are wise to acknowledge our peckele as our own.

So difficulties are a part of life. Challenging times. Pressure that is slowly transforming the coal into the diamond.

And still, the question. How do we see life and aging as grace? How do we see our lives as full of fortune and beauty, even when it is riddled with hardship and challenge?

By focusing on the beauty. Our eyes are trained to focus on one spot and put the rest into background focus. Otherwise there is always a barrage of too much information. This is how our eyes are trained early on. Focus, find your spot that grabs your attention, and the rest falls into background focus – you know subconsciously that it is all there, but it does not barrage your senses. It does not bother you or distract you.

Pick your focus point. What we focus on, that is what fills our attention field.

If we focus on the challenge, the lack, the difficulty, then that is what we will see, and the good will fall out of our notice. The good will be the background.

Focus on the beauty, the grace, the miracles, and that is what will fill your focus field. That is what you will see. And by default, the challenge moves to the background.

And that is why being forty is full of verve and sparks and excitement and interest. Because that is what I choose to focus on.

Want to focus on the wrinkles, the years of productivity gone by, the stretch marks, go right ahead. Just find someone else to sit and be depressed with.

Not me. I am celebrating this 40. The way I see it, it is the excitement and youth and unbounding energy of 20, but with more wisdom, experience, love, understanding, and wonderful people enriching my life.

I am blessed.

Not more so or less so than you or anyone else. We are all blessed.

It is all just a matter of focus. What are you focusing on?

With love, blessing, and grace, Devorah

And in case you missed my special mid-week blog, here it is....Surrender

Love and light to you all in this holiday season, from Beit Roga

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