“Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.”
~ Charlotte Eriksson
Early next month I will celebrate my fiftieth birthday.
My husband has been bothering me for months, asking what I want to do to celebrate. And I kept avoiding his question. I didn’t think I wanted a big party, but part of me was trying to juggle the possibility, and all that ended up doing was deflating my party mood.
To further muddy the water I’ve been working on the final draft of my memoir, and combined with a year of hospitalisations, near-death experiences and lingering complications, as well as my background companion Lyme disease, the realisation of just how long I have been living with chronic illness and all that has stolen from me has been quite confronting.
Finally, after a long walk down to the river and back, I had a clear head. I am alive. That is what turning fifty is all about. I am still here, and it is up to me to fill my bucket with the things that matter to me. Fifty is no mean feat for someone who has nearly croaked it four times now. So I came up with a list of options. A birthday celebration list, and this is it:
- A road trip with Ben, and he has to make some excellent playlists for me as a soundtrack for our adventure
- A small but fancy and delicious High Tea with my sister and a group of my closest girlfriends
- A weekend away writing, where all I have to think about is words on the page or going for a long walk to ponder a plot point. A place where my meals are cooked and my bed is comfortable, and I can get a cup of tea whenever I want.
- A holiday, somewhere new, anytime in the next year, where I can sip champagne with Ben and count my many blessings
- A raucous dinner party at home with my neighbours and Byron Bay pals, followed by a bonfire in the backyard, under the stars
- A big meetup with Dana and all my students, YOMmers, and Cauldrons and Cupcakes peeps – with tasty treats and crystals and lots of hugs and fun
- An early morning beach walk and meditation, with time for ritual, journaling, oracle cards and reflection time, just on my own with the big sky and my Aunties and Ancestors above me and the earth beneath my feet.
I brought my list to Ben. This is it, I said. I’m going to do one of these. Can you help me pick?
He read over the list, and then he smiled.
Do all of them, he said.
We’ll start with the road trip.
So today that’s what we’re doing. A few totally unplanned days away, wherever the road takes us, while a dear friend looks after the dogs and the farm.
Elle, I haven’t forgotten your question about God, the Universe and why stuff happens. In fact I’ve been thinking about it all week while we’ve had no phone or internet here at the farm. I’ve begun a blog post to answer it but it till needs a bit more thought. It was a big question, and it deserves a decent and considered answer. Expect one in the next few days.
Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for you to write a list of your own, my friends. Just because you can. Just because you’re alive. And that’s worth celebrating every day of the year.
Sending you all my love, some hugs and a very good virtual cuppa, Nicole xoxo