My fiftieth birthday has come and gone and yet I have words in my head that have not dissolved, so here I am. There is a line in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that speaks to a “position of neutrality”, specifically referring to the company of alcohol. I like to take the concept further and apply it to expectations. This is big work for me. Before I quit drinking, I loved to indulge in future-tripping. I loved the drama of it, I let it keep me up at night, I wanted every experience to be OFF THE CHARTS good. Like any good sufferer of the disease of MORE, I scoffed at mediocre, okay or even good. I expected great, every time. As you can imagine, most experiences failed miserably at meeting my expectations. And arguably, many of them could have been great, but I was too drunk to notice.
So back to this big work for me practicing neutrality around expectations, it works. It worked when I went to Portland, OR a few weekends ago for a Tammi Salas lovefest/Unruffled Podcast meetup/Amanda Grace RAW workshop. I kept my expectations at a low hum and the experience well exceeded that to where I’m still riding a wave of creative inspiration and productivity. My actual birthday was interesting though. I experienced an emotion I’m not used to feeling and it really caught me off-guard.
Melancholy is not a dwelling I inhabit very often. It was a bit of a paradox as while I was feeling every ounce of gratitude for even reaching this milestone birthday and was overcome with appreciation for all of the birthday love that was flooding my text messages and Facebook notifications, yet, there it was. In reflection, there were a combination of realizations that spurred the emotion, I’m sure of it, the biggest one as something I don’t often like to examine: impermanence. And not just impermanence as my own impending doom, which if I’m truly lucky, I’ve reached the half-way mark but the slippage of time in general. I have a teen that will be leaving my home soon and I know, I KNOW it’s going to feel like a limb has been ripped off. I don’t live in regret but there is always lingering some lament over the paths not taken, “the ghost ship that didn’t carry us”.
As quickly as melancholy engulfed me that Tuesday morning, it had left by the evening. I drifted in the wake of, What just happened? for a bit. In conclusion, I’m happy to be fifty. Practicing neutrality around the anticipation of this birthday was about to play out, so I’m glad to be here, that it’s come and gone. I don’t know what this decade will bring, but I look forward to being astonished, either way.