Friday, October 06, 2006

The shape of life and numbers

It somehow sounds and feels incongruous to say that tomorrow, on the 7th of October 2006, I will turn 40. I've never been one to subscribe to age, the number ... and the thought of 40 seeming 'old' or 'adult' in the typical sense of those words doesn't fit. Life's 'important' birthday turning points somehow (as dictated by society) have been allocated as 16, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60 ... (those are the main ones, I think). I don't know why.

I remember thinking when I turned 30 that it felt great. I saw 30 shaped like the Om sign and the process of turning to that age/number/point of life felt like shedding a skin somehow. And when I look at the stretch of my 30's, I see how many things I did shed and discard, either intentionally or not, conscoiusly or not - things I didn't want or didn't need. At 33 I experienced my most major turn to date. In addition to my own sudden decisions (e.g. leaving my job as a birthday gift to myself) it felt like The Supreme Being beyond my understanding unexpectedly and dramatically picked me up, spun (span? spinned?) me around and put me somewhere else ... where I am now. I don't 100% know why, but that's how it is and it's who I am. If I were a pencil, maybe the 30's would have been my sharpening phase, pointing me to where I'm going, what I'm doing and who I am. However, on the brink of 40, I still don't know in a 100% conscious way where I'm going, what I'm doing or "who I am" but ... life is an ongoing process of experiencing those things ... and 40 feels like the magic number that brings them more into focus: This is who/what/where I am.

A friend told me recently: "We're hitting 40, girl. We're getting old!" I don't see it like that. It feels like a rebirth from a point of having already been (if that makes sense). Where 30 was the shedding, 40 is the carrying forward. When I think that I've been through 4 decades of life, it seems like ages in terms of the amount that has unfolded ... and I think that life could even be another four decades of unfolding. Into what?

Since I've been a child, when I think about numbers or when I'm counting, I see the numbers laid out in a particular shape. I've sometimes tried to describe this to people but they rarely understand or 'see' it as well. Do we all have our own shapes for life's numbers and the way they're laid out?

It would be easier to draw or animate in 3D than to explain in words. 0 to 10 are laid out flat, quite like a straight road and they are glowing slightly. At 11, the road turns like a strand of DNA and starts heading upwards to 20. These numbers are almost on steps - it's not quite as smooth, yet not rough and somewhat hazy. (A psychologist might have a field day with this). At 20 it turns and runs from right to left, flat, like the 'balcony' section of a cinema or opera house, looking over the 0 - 20 design. The ledge-like stretch ends at 29 (on the left) and somehow 30 seamlessly begins the next strand on the right (even though I can't 'see' the bend that takes 30 to the right hand side of my vision). At 30 there is a burst of light and the 'lighting' in the numbers becomes different. In the strand that leads to 40, the numbers seem bigger, as though seen through a magnifying glass. From 40 it no longer seems like a 'strand' of ribbon or DNA, but more like a road. It doesn't climb up in a dramatic way, but keeps winding and ascending almost unnoticeably, like the drive up to Asa Wright ... or, to use a more recent example which I enjoyed, like St. Lucian roads, which are very winding unstrenuously through beautiful green mountains. Interestingly, now as I'm thinking about it, I can't see the numbers after 40. I'm just seeing a road. But the number 60 stands out for some reason.

I remember when I was a child, hearing about someone turning 16 and thinking "Wow, that's old!" Numbers beyond 7 or even 11 seemed beyond my comprehension. I remember Daddy once telling the story of me, at age 7, being told that a family friend (Mrs Sweeney) was also born on my birthday ... and my confusion as I wondered how she could be seven as well when she looked so much "bigger" than I was.

Anyway, 40, I welcome you and what you are bringing. I want this to be embedded in me.
*
Elspeth

1 Comments:

Blogger Webgrl said...

Happy (re)birthday :)
I don't doubt for a minute that you can get what you want for your birthday.Maybe in some ways you already have it.

10:36 AM  

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