This bit of wisdom, about having another birthday, about growing older. And he’s right, of course. I would rather be old than be dead. At least this old, which isn’t really so old in the grand scheme of things.
This year the number didn’t bother me so much for some reason. Instead of marking it as a year closer to fifty, I just think of it as the marker for another year that I got to spend with the people I love, another ring inside a tree.
The origin of my blog title, “Rings Inside a Tree”is a short story by Sandra Cisneros called “Eleven.” In it, The protagonist reasons that maybe even when you’re eleven you’re still ten and nine and eight, and even five and two. That birthdays are like rings inside a tree, each year inside the next one, and that sometimes the things you do are really those younger selves acting.
The main character, Rachel, turns eleven years old, and she’s not feeling particularly older or wiser at school when the teacher embarrasses her about being the owner of this grungy old sweater that isn’t even hers. She ends up crying in front of the whole class just like she was three after the teacher made her put the sweater on, and she’s wishing she were 102 so that she would have known what to say to her teacher and thus prevented the whole miserable episode.
It’s a great story, and I think the idea about how we grow older is spot-on. We don’t feel any older, or much wiser, and we still remember being all of those other ages; we still are all of those other ages. So, while today, the number changed, I’m still my younger selves as well, and as Dad says, “It is better than the alternative.”