56

Ten hours into the experience, it's pretty clear I'm going to like 56. 

The scattering of friends over time zones (as well as a few beloved first-in-line overachievers) started the texts, posts and emails last night.  I traded a few live messages very early this morning at the cottage kitchen table/desk, collected a birthday kiss from Charlie when he woke up for a bathroom break and headed to my summer Saturday morning "office."

I stopped on the way to the post office box and was not surprised to find notice of a package from Jen and Nick to pick up when the window opens. A couple of surprise cards cemented the goofy smile that had been growing since the first messages 

Yes, Tim Horton's has better coffee but it's mobbed. At the nearby Dunkin Donuts there is no competition for a table and the staff seems grateful for the company. I plugged in my computer, spread out my files , placed an imaginary candle in the crazy-after-losing-120-pounds indulgence of an Everything Bagel WITH BUTTER and slowly savored every forbidden carb. Both halves. All mine. 

Birthdays are inevitably a scorekeeping device, but it took this refugee from the fourth-grade "smart class" 55 years to figure out its not the score or the game, but your fellow players who count. A person who will easily shares with you their love, trust or ideas is invaluable, the rest is just stuff. Today I am (regardless of what he may say) richer than Donald Trump. 

Yes, there are people I miss. But time spent in mourning or anger over those you have lost - whether permanently or by their choice -- is time unavailable to those with you now. I've finally figured out how to honor the lost with love and memory but keep my heart open to the possibilities of today and tomorrow.  

Whether it's a gift of the Creator or simply intelligent design, good health and vitality help us survive the stupidity and surety of youth. The inevitable physical wear and tear we take on at this point keeps us humble once we start figuring things out. I could not imagine trading who and what I know now for physical gifts of then. 

I'm happily humbled today by the love and good wishes of my friends and family - and excited about what is sure to be the best year yet.

Thanks all.