"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Saturday, August 23, 2014

looking at 60

Having a fun evening in Portland the night before I got sick

For my 40th birthday, I asked my friends to dress as cowboys and cowgirls and join me at a local ranch for line dancing and bar-b-que.  I wasn’t very good at public speaking back then; in fact it terrified and practically paralyzed me. But, after a couple glasses of wine, I managed to stand on the stage and tell my friends how great it felt to be 40.  I wasn’t lying. Neither my brother-in-law nor a very close girlfriend had made it; both had died that year, and their absences weighed heavily on my mind that night. I believed I finally understood the fragility of life, and I felt grateful and happy to be alive.

Now I’m looking at 60. Yep, it’s there – just up ahead. Twelve days ahead, to be exact. And once again, I’m not going to be quiet about my big birthday.  (To be fair, it’s just not in my nature anyway. My sister can tell you that the entire year leading up to my 30th was a fairly obnoxious one; I couldn’t stop talking about the fact that I was getting so old, blah, blah, blah.)

For many years I have suffered from vestibular migraines. They suck. Sometimes I have a nasty headache, but that’s the least of it. The worst of it is that I get vertigo. Even a short bout of vertigo knocks me out for at least two days (once I was out of commission for several weeks). I’m down for the count, in a quiet darkened room, unable to do more than get myself to the bathroom every now and then. The attacks are nearly impossible to predict, and when they occur I am always in the middle of doing something far more interesting than lying in bed feeling like I might never be able to get up again.

I just lost two days this week in Portland. I had far better things to do, of course, than lie still with a cold washcloth on my face. But it did give me a lot of time to think about turning 60.

So many things can change our perspective on life. Being sick is a big one. All I can say, on this morning of finally feeling better, is that I’m thankful for yet another reprieve and ready to grab today - and the next decade of my life – by the horns. As they say, you have no idea what tomorrow might bring. Yeah, it's trite, but oh so important to remember. 

Now pardon me while I get out of my slippers and back into my cowboy boots. With gusto.


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