Ten years ago when I worked at Southern Living, I had a postcard tacked to the wall of my work space. It featured a quote by Major League pitcher Satchel Paige: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" I was struck by this idea then, and I continue to be today.
Some days, when I wake up with an achy back and knees that pop and crack, I feel ancient. I try to run a mile, and I find myself gasping for the next breath. I visit my dentist or doctor and marvel at how they could be at least a decade younger than me. I find I'm singing along to a favorite song ... and it's playing on the "Oldies" station.
Other days, I feel like I'm still a giddy, goofy teenager. I feel silly, funny, carefree, and I share silly, funny, and carefree moments with Tim and the boys. An opportunity comes my way, and I feel the thrill of trying something new. I get lost in a book, in a conversation with a friend, or in a moment of freedom, and time slips away.
Yesterday was my birthday ... number 39. Just one year until the big 4-0. Seriously?! For some well-adjusted folks, this may not be a big deal. For me? Right now it seems like a major milestone, and I wish that wasn't the case. I want to learn to share Paige's ageless mindset. Because, like him, I know that our age is truly just a number, a mile marker, but not a statement on the vitality of our life.
There is a bigger story being told -- one that goes on and on and on, and I am part of that story. And it isn't measured in years, decades, or even centuries. Donald Miller expresses this idea beautifully. He writes, "I am early in my story, but I believe I will stretch out into eternity, and in heaven I will reflect upon these early days, these days when it seemed God was down a dirt road, walking toward me."
There's relief found in understanding that truth, in accepting that, and in anticipating it. Freedom even. Freedom from counting the days, fretting over the years, and worrying about the future.
So, as for this new year? I greet you with a smile. And when 40 arrives in 364 days, I seek to face you without dread and without fear, but with this same timeless smile.