I had my thirty-seventh birthday yesterday. It was a plain ordinary day in my life, and I don’t think I could have enjoyed it more. I was woken up by a birthday call from my daughter, got to gaze around at my garden over coffee, worked online for most of the morning, ran a bunch of errands without fuss or furor, piled into a mighty Mexican supper with fond friends, and generally just had a decent day on planet Earth, comfortable in the skin I’m in.
Of course, I’ve been working on turning thirty-seven for about six months now, and not always gracefully. It’s like practicing for a gig: if you do enough of the tough ugly stuff in advance, it happens pretty smoothly when the big moment rolls around. I do that with birthdays. It’s just the way I am. But I’d been working on this one harder than usual, mostly because thirty-seven is a prime number.
You may wonder what possible difference that could make… and I sure can’t prove the science of it… but it makes a difference to me. The fact that thirty-seven can’t be divided by anything other than one and itself is important to me. It means my entire life to this point can be symbolically treated as a discrete chunk of time/experience/memory. And for that matter, based on best estimates, I’ve probably got about an equal chunk of time/experience/possibility ahead of me. So I’m primed for what’s next!
I wasn’t sure where that line of thinking would take me, but the effects have been pretty cool now that it’s started to happen. For one thing, I’ve updated my own mental image of my life timeline. Until recently, I was sort of seeing myself hover over my early thirties; in fact, at every point in my life that I can remember, I’ve seen myself hovering over the numbers, except maybe when I was less than ten years old, and the numbers hovered over me.
As of yesterday – I’m serious about this by the way – I don’t actually see the numbers unless I make the effort. I stand where I am. The past and the present extend from this moment, if I bother to follow the strands of energy all over the place, but I feel like I’m just here now. (When I DO look forward, I see fifty a lot more clearly than I ever did… but wow, my teens and twenties have been squished together behind my early thirties, like the folds of an accordion bellows!)
More importantly, for the first time I can ever recall, I feel like I’m just “I” now. As if the many potentialities of myself have, like the many temporalities of this moment, somehow coalesced. And critically, the observing self (I) feels quite at one with the existing self (me.) That’s something unexpected and totally refreshing.
I don’t expect this feeling to last, although it would be wonderful if it did. But even if I could perpetually sense the eternity of now, and perpetually experience the unity of I, I’m quite certain that wouldn’t be enough.
While achieving this sense of ‘I/me’ unity is a good thing for me – it feels like a foundation of some kind – I still think ‘I’ has got to be the most selfish, arrogant word in the universe! I’m pretty sure that the true unity I would seek is not of self, but of all… which means the end of ‘I’. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to take the other chunk of my life to get to that stage.
Meanwhile, I’m here, I’m happy, and I feel right at home. After all, I am in a prime location…