On the Edge of Sixty

willow treeThis is my last night in my fifties.  Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will officially be 60 years old.  I say officially because a calendar somewhere says that my body has reached a certain age.   I think, however, that we are like trees—forever young on the inside where fluids travel up and down, where the flesh is always soft and white, and where the core remains untouched by wind and sun.  On the outside, though, we appear to grow more stately, our bark a little thicker and darker and our limbs a little less flexible.

We had a wonderful party last night with people I love all around me, a beautiful fire, delicious food, and so much laughter.  It was the perfect send-off to the fifties.

For some reason I keep seeing across the decades and spying on a little blonde, tow-headed tomboy who loved to climb trees, run through the woods, gather berries, dive into frigid water, make chains out of horsetails, and read books—lots of books.  She seems so young and innocent to me.  She not once thought about who she would be when she was sixty.  She was just so full of the now.  Everything around her seemed large and uncertain.   I remember she had a tender heart and liked to think big thoughts even then.

I remember a Richard Bach book (Bridge Across Forever) where he gets to travel back and meet a younger version of himself.  I don’t even remember what he hoped to accomplish—it was the idea of it that intrigued me.  In reality, we are always time traveling—selectively remembering, selectively forgetting, but always twisting whatever we discover back into the current moment like an expert weaver.

I have no wise words tonight.  Maybe that is what will come to me in my sixties, although I often feel more and more like that little girl.  I love to be outside.  I want the wind in my hair, the dirt beneath my nails, and my body next to the earth.

Peace to all.

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On the Edge of Sixty — 10 Comments

  1. It was a wonderful party – with an awful lot of really good friends – great food – thanks everybody! Fun with music – laughing – lots of laughing. The fire was grand and the night was perfect – no wind. And of course you and me with our antenna mingling. For cute!

  2. Dear Jamie,
    Happy Birthday! I know we’ve never met, but I feel I have come to know you as a friend through the beautiful writings you share here. What you write touches my heart. Your closing words of:

    “I have no wise words tonight. Maybe that is what will come to me in my sixties, although I often feel more and more like that little girl. I love to be outside. I want the wind in my hair, the dirt beneath my nails, and my body next to the earth.”

    caused me to recall similar words written by my dear younger sister who turned 50 on October 26th. I believe her words will speak to you too, so I will share them here:

    “But when I was a kid, it [summer] was wonderful. I remember being so happy in summertime because school was over and I could be at my favorite place—home. I loved to spend all day outside. I remember lying on my back in the tall alfalfa, and gazing at the sky. Sometimes the sky was light blue with full, fluffy clouds whose changes in shape and position were imperceptible, unless you happened to be doing nothing but lying on your back in the alfalfa watching them. At other times the clouds were thin and wispy and sailed quickly across the sky. To me, there was something even more intriguing and exciting about a cloudless, intensely deep blue sky. The air would be still; the birds would be quiet. Maybe the only sound would be an enormous bumblebee nearby. I could smell fresh green alfalfa and warm dirt. The sunshine would feel oddly heavy, and the overall effect was an extremely pleasant drowsiness.

    As I think about it now, a most vivid impression of my childhood in Montana is being on the ground—the earth. I guess little kids are short and therefore take more notice of things closer to the ground. But it was more than that. It’s something that I miss now. At the risk of sounding corny, I’ll say that it was a sense of being in touch or in tune with the earth. I spent a lot of time in close physical contact with the earth—lying on my stomach watching a beetle crawl across the dirt underneath a patch of sweet-smelling dry brown grass; “swimming” on the grass with Larry when Dad would flood irrigate the lawn (Mom must have loved us tracking through the house afterwards, our little wet bodies covered with grass!); rolling down the front terrace, collecting grass and bits of dry leaves in my hair and clothes. These are things that grown-ups just don’t do, right? . . .

    I loved the summer rainstorms that often came. I’ll describe to you one of the favorite moments of my life, and you can see if it doesn’t sound pretty perfect. The family had spent most of the afternoon swimming in the river at the Fort Shaw Bridge. Dad had gotten popsicles for us on the way home. And now I was in the front yard, changed into dry clothes. With the coming of the late afternoon, the day had changed from warm and sunny to cool, overcast and breezy. I was chasing giant dandelion parachutes. (I don’t know what else to call them! You know—the white fluffy things with seeds on them when the dandelions have gone to seed.) Sometimes in breezy weather like this, we kids would pretend they were cattle and we were trying to herd them into a corral before the storm came. I think that’s what I was doing on this particular day. From the open kitchen window, I could hear voices inside the house, and I could smell that Mom was frying hamburger for supper. This may seem like an insignificant scenario, but I still think about that day often, as it is associated in my mind with a feeling of supreme happiness and well-being!”

    BACK TO KEITH: Jamie, my heart is full this morning. I feel I am being called to experience family constellation work, but I’m not sure how to proceed. I live in Utah, and as far as I know, there is no one here locally who conducts family constellation workshops. If you have any suggestions about how I might go about experiencing a family constellation workshop, I would be grateful to hear them. From my searching on the Internet, I have felt drawn to you and your work and to a practitioner named “Lisa Iversen”.

    Thanks for reading this and for any thoughts or insights you feel moved to share.



    • Hi Keith,

      I read every word of your sister’s beautiful stories. She and I must be soul sisters. I remember writing about a memory of reaching for a wild rose and seeing a tiny white spider crawl onto my hand. Although I was terrified of spiders, I just let him walk across my hand. It is as clear in my mind as that day way back when.

      I am not sure where you live in Utah, but I’ll be doing Constellation Work in Rapid City, SD this weekend–not so VERY far away. Just hop in your car and come and join us. There is a small group who desires to use Constellation work to look at the larger issues of the world. It could be a fascinating and special after workshop session. My organizer usually fills the agenda pretty full, but I want to play a little at the end of the day. The other possibility is just bring enough people together to bring me out–air fare and a bit of stipend and I’m there.

      I so enjoy your replies to my posts. Keep writing.

      Jamie Lee

  3. Thank you so very much for this beautiful message! Yes, you certainly were that child–grown up now to still be in love with nature and life! And now you’ve added people and families and everything else that makes life creative, healthy, and beautiful!

  4. Thank you, Jamie, for sharing your birthday thoughts and childhood reminiscing. I am most pleased to hear that you were encircled with such love of family and friends. Blessings and love!

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write me such a lovely note. It is like having a birthday all over again to finally click in and respond to some of these great comments. Peace!

  5. Patti, I love your the analogy to a tree. The trees here in PA are beautiful and there is such incredible variety. I am in awe of trees and your comments about life flowing through the trunk have stuck with me. It would have been fun to celebrate with you in person. Be assured our thoughts are with you as you start your 61st growth ring!

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