My brother sent me a cryptic email for my 60th birthday; all it said was:
“Arrival On Earth” and my immediate response was: “I Have Landed”
For a moment I felt other-worldly, like an alien who’d stumbled off a spacecraft from a distant planet. For just a split second. Then I thought, scientists say we originated from stardust and share a common set of elements. If this is true, are we merely accidents gaining momentum (like snowflakes), picking up hydrocarbons while tumbling wide-eyed through reams and reams of exploding dark matter?
Ahem. Earth to Monica.
Or are we human beings created with a clearly focused Intention (see
Genesis…dust!), totally unique to billions of others in this giant human swimming pool of a planet?
Given the short time we are blessed with life, I’ve thought about the conundrums of death and aging, not because they are morbid subjects or I’m cloaked in any sort of depressive state, but because they are wholly fascinating subjects to ponder, and the latter (because I haven’t personally lived through the former…haha) is odd and really is somewhat “other-worldly” to observe. I now view the world as an entirely different place as I did in young adulthood, not because science, technology and the Internet have expanded my perspective, but because I’m old enough to perceive changes in perspective on an extended timeline. When you’re a fish in water, you don’t notice the water; history is happening day to day, moment to moment, but not entirely digested until later when there is an accumulation of time stacked behind you, like water behind a dam. There is an acute awareness now of taking stock of events, big and small, personal and impersonal. With all this accelerated to the nth degree of change going on, the question remains: do things ever really change? Are we still talking about sustainability ( a repeat of the 1970’s…remember our holy bible, The Mother Earth News?) or how to end wars or prevent them from starting (power and resource duels, nothing new).
At 60, you can see the world from a distance and view differences and similarities that have accumulated over time. Splendidly interesting.
The body. Oh yes, lest we talk about the body. My mom summed it up like this: “Picture an old car; parts just start rusting and fall off.” She told me this when I was 40 (watching her own body changing) and I had no idea what she was talking about. Pretty grim. Too abstract.
But now I get it. Concrete as hell.
It’s bizarre to look in the mirror and say, who is that? Is that the 16-year-old ground me for the rest of my life, I don’t care, it was worth it – hellion you were 44 years ago? Or the glowing, enchanted and electrified woman holding and kissing her firstborn for the first time a mere 31 years ago? Or the highly irritable menopausal hellion-repeat I won’t go into details, a short 10 years ago?
At 60, not only do you realize a relatively long experience of life, but the
lives of others, too. Grandparents gradually shrink and fade from view
while children enlarge and ignite the entire landscape. When our neighbor kids burst through the door (we installed a doorbell to accommodate their height), the whole house lights up with laughter and beautiful non-stop chatter.
Please: Don’t put me in a home when I’m old; put me where I can hear the laughter of children playing in the neighborhood.
And finally, by 60 you realize nothing lasts. You rust out or you burn out, but out you go. The bad times will pass (and so will the good) and as my friend Kathy Drue, says, life consists of moments arising, one after another after another, that we have no control over and can only respond to as intelligently as possible. All the masks we wear, the roles we play, the mistakes made, triumphs experienced…all of it comprises the outer shell of our existence while the inner mystery remains intact, indestructible and infinite…bearing an energy that pulses through the universe, (call it god, the source, the life force)…picking up particles on its flight through space, creating black holes, big bangs, planets, stardust and real honest-to-goodness people.
Thank you brother, for the succinct off-kilter birthday wish. You got me thinking about the mystery of life, and that’s a holy gift.
0 thoughts on “We Are Stardust, We Are Golden”
Reading this at 3 a.m. hoping an airplane will take off and take a precious bit of stardust back to San Diego. Happy Birthday, Monica. You are golden!
The nice thing about "over 60", besides all the senior discounts, free Wednesdays on the bus, etc., is that we finally have a little bit of time to reflect on what's happened to us over the long haul. Suddenly I can't push the pedals up the hill like before… have to get off and walk it. Swimming is still easy, but no more triathlons for me. I can run a mile, not 26. Okay, I can't really run the whole mile anymore. I always wanted to stay fit past 60. I want to die standing up, or swimming, doing something. Don't want to be found in my bed… "His pain and suffering are over now.." Hell, I didn't mind a little pain. Yes, I still have to return to the stardust, as in ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust. Let the ashes be the parts of my life where I've left behind charred remains of living.. I want to go out saying, "Oh shit, I forgot to try dancing in the moonlight on a frozen lake. Wait, been there, done that…" Then of course, we have the "Other Side" to contend with.. hope my knees don't hurt then. ha.
Happy birthday, Monica. I enjoyed your reflections upon distance and life perspective. I went to school with Kent, and seeing the synchronicity of your title alluding to Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" lyric, I had to click the Facebook link. The refrain gives me goosebumps. Thanks for filling in another piece of my life puzzle (the Universe is encouraging me to write a book). Blessings.
Your voice grows ever more lovely and clear as you accumulate stardust through the years. Happy Birthday Monica.
And thank you, Kathy, for continuing to enlighten my heart and feed my mind…done with brilliance!
OH, "leaving behind charred remains of living" has such deep resonance; beautiful Mike.
I too want to stay fit past 60 (the time to start is now). I have a friend who travels the world with her grandchildren & she's in her 70's…I'll have role models until I die!
Kent says you should add the word "naked" after the frozen lake line. He says, "you know he was thinking that, even though he didn't write it"…ha! Oh, you guys.
Don't die without excavating the song in your heart…WRITE!
Thank you for taking a look, Steve.
Oh, what a beautiful poetic line. Thank you for the sentiment, Kaylene.
I so enjoyed your post: Happy Birthday Monica!
Happy Birthday, Monica . . . . I think about so many of the same things you write about here. Yes, time passed can feel like time lost; and yet it brings a perspective that would not be possible without reflecting on the accumulation of experience and appreciating it for what it is. Where does the time go? — that's the conundrum for me. And I'm a few years past 60 😉
If I've learned anything through my years, it's that everything counts.All of the mistakes, the hestitations, the triumphs, the wrong turns and the tears are not only acceptable – they are necessary. That stardust is nothing more than the cloud of experience that surrounds us, a cloud in which (to paraphrase one tradition) we live and move and have our being.
Birthdays are such a gift – they make the stardust visible! Happy birthday!
Thank you for the perspective; I've never thought about a wrong turn as "counting"; I've made mistakes that I've later deemed as regrets, but in the vast array of events maybe they were necessary on some level, on the path to learning something new, or creating a better outcome the next time.
"Birthdays make stardust visible"…may I borrow that line?!
Yes! There are still so many cool things I want to experience; I wonder if we'll have a 2nd lifetime…or a third. Greedy me.