The Best of Arrangements

July 18, 2016

In a few months’ time, G-d willing, I will celebrate 50 years on this planet. Well, that’s what the calendar and my birth certificate have reconciled. In my head, I’m still 27.

I’m grateful for all the big ticket blessings in my life. But I also savor the details – the large shade tree outside our kitchen window, the finches that nestle in its branches, my coffee press, and the classic rock station that perpetuates this time warp in which I feel younger than I actually am.

Over the years, I’ve made progress on stomaching large problems when they tumble into my path. I’ve also learned to be thankful when the challenges are small. I confess, though, that I sometimes struggle to discern the difference between the two, and I often wonder if my faith is up to the task of accepting what is beyond my control.

With a milestone birthday coming up, I’ve been thinking about these spiritual conundrums as well as the more practical issue of how to mark the occasion. Family and friends kindly ask how I’d like to celebrate. A party? An outing? A spa day? I’m embarrassed I don’t have the answer yet. I would love to do something special. I just haven’t figured out what.

My great aunt once told me a joke about two elderly women who attend a flower show. One says to the other, “You know, we’ve never done anything crazy. What are we waiting for? Let’s streak through the show!” They agree and embark on their dare, ultimately winning Best Dried Arrangement.

Don’t panic. I’m not streaking anywhere, nor am I planning anything wild like bungee jumping over Victoria Falls or swimming with the sharks in Fiji – no judgment if that’s your thing. But while I’m still figuring out how to celebrate my 50th, I’m taking an essential lesson from those two gals at the flower show.

There are so many things I’ve never experienced – classics I’ve never read, cuisines I’ve never tasted, local places I’ve never visited, everyday adventures I’ve never had. Now is as good a time as any to rectify as much of that as I can. And while few of these individual things are cool or dramatic, they are collectively the gift I wish to give myself.

I hope you’ll share this with me, letting me know what else I shouldn’t miss out on. After all, our time here is limited, but our possibilities for delight and wonder shouldn’t be.