One of the pleasures of working at the house is quality time spent with the iPod. And one of the particular enjoyments of late is the wonderful playlist that The Wife put together for my upcoming birthday (it starts with a ‘four’ and ends with an ‘oh!’). Not only is it some great music, but it perfectly captures her wry sense of humor and her affection for both me and irony. Behold, the wonder:
“Oh Death” Ralph Stanley
“Old Man” Neil Young
“All My Mistakes” The Avett Brothers
“Careful Not to Draw Your Maps in Pen and Ink” The Cobalt Season
“Long Time Comin’” Bruce Sprinsteen
“In My Time of Dying” Led Zeppelin
“Make Yourself” Incubus
“Rebellion (Lies)” Arcade Fire
“Wither” Son Lux
“Everything in Its Right Place” Radiohead
“Time is Nothing” Resident Hero
All of which makes me laugh, and take my increasingly obvious mortality a bit less seriously. It is truly a cliche to talk about how the young yearn for birthdays, and the older among us are less impressed. While this is undoubtedly the case, what is even more interesting to me is the way in which this shift takes place: it’s not as though a balance tips one year and a person suddenly begins backpedalling away from their grave. No, the shift happens slowly, giving you several years to think about all the years you’ve amassed, instead of being only cognizant of the decreasing number of years ahead.
Or maybe that’s exactly the balance we ought to seek: a simultaneous consideration of what we’ve done, even as we think about what we’d yet like to accomplish, all the while making peace with the grave that awaits us all. And maybe it’s because my life is in a happier place than it’s been for a few years, but this is where I’m at as I turn 40: grateful for (most of) what’s gone before, and hopeful about what’s yet ahead. Which is no small thing to be thankful for.