Wow. What a year my fifty-fourth was. And it's nearly the end of 2009 also. 53-54 and 2008-9 will go down as one of the most intense emotional/psychically demanding years I've ever lived. 54 was really a landmark year for me. It was, without doubt, my most artistically productive year ever. I feel as if I found my voice this year without any artificial limits or constrictions imposed from outside myself. I felt as if I had nothing to hide, as if I were standing utterly naked in a fully-clothed world, and that's the position I made art from. It's been intense, scary and freeing. It's been the year I finally let my mother see what exactly it is I make, and that, too, has been quite intense and not without its own troubles.
But here I stand, on the edge of my fifty-fifth year, an utterly free woman artist.
At my hair-dresser's Friday I was reflecting on my own wild half-century ride. It is truly extraordinary, I think, when a person can say he or she has fulfilled every single entry on a lifetime "to-do" list, especially one written, like mine, when one was an adolescent and knew no limits practicality might impose on one's dreams. I was extremely fortunate to have crossed off every single item on my lifetime to-do list by the age of forty-four.
This last decade of my life has seemed improvised in a way the decades that went before it didn't. In a way, I've been drifting more than I ever did before in my life, swept along by the tides of life. I've been less goal-oriented and much more experience-oriented this last decade. In a very real way I've understood that my time now is limited, that I've certainly lived longer than I have left to live. And so I've consciously tried to pack more into each of my days, weeks and months. Not living with and taking care of others has freed me to pursue my own interests in a way I never, ever before was able to do. And THAT freedom, I must admit, I have enjoyed.
And in the final moments of my fifty-fourth year I realize that beginning tomorrow I will be closer to sixty than to fifty. It's like climbing a ladder that stretches up into the sky. When I glance down to assess my progress, I realize I'm breath-takingly high up now. So I won't look down. I will just continue my ascent.
What does my fifty-fifth year hold in store? I don't know. But I'm planning for it to be the year of a new drawing series I'll start over the holidays, a year of three dance classes a week, a year of more public performances, a year of launching new web projects, a year of dancing tango at milongas. Maybe it will be less emotional and less dramatic than was my fifty-fourth. Calm might be good, as long as it's not boring. I have been happier than I've ever been in my entire life these last couple of years, even with the profound setbacks from which I recovered.
That I may have the good fortune to enjoy another year of happiness and artistic productivity -- and good health -- is the secret birthday wish I make as I blow out an imaginary candle.