Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

It’s my birthday…

(re 6th October. Posted 7th October.)

Today is my birthday.

It is also the anniversary of the mastectomy.

A few times today I have thought, “This time last year.” The first time was earlyish this morning, when Paul was cooking breakfast. I started off by saying something like, “This time last year I was off to hospital,” but changed it to, “I wasn’t able to eat anything!” I’d forgotten that, but it came flooding back when I thought about the breakfast.

There was a time when I used to be sad that my birthday was not a special day for the whole world. There is that feeling that we can have that, because it is such a significant day for us, this should somehow matter to the rest of the world. It is, of course, just a mindset, as every day is just another day for most people. It is only we, ourselves, who understand the significance of some days over others.

In my older age, I am quite happy with me knowing it’s my birthday and finding the special in the ordinary.

Today was, in fact, quite an ordinary day: I was at home in the earlier morning, then went to Wits to teach (actually the most classes I have on one day), then we went to Carl’s for a swim, then out to supper. Okay, the going out to supper was not ordinary. And getting lovely gifts from the family was also not ordinary. Pretty much everything else was, though. It’s been in the way I’ve looked at the day that the special has been.

I think, partly, this is because I did not have a proper birthday last year, due to surgery etc, so the very ordariness of today has been special and different. Partly, too, though, it’s just been the way I’ve seen things.

As usual, on my birthday, although I now have to add a digit to my age, I feel no older. In fact, when one of my students asked about my age when I wrote a section for our play, she said she felt she was playing it too young. I tried to understand what it is supposed to feel like to feel over 50 – and failed miserably! I feel as though I’ve been feeling like this always.

I suppose that our thoughts and attitudes (etc) do change in many ways when we get older. They have to. I think, also, that it’s also just all about how we see the world. For me, it’s still a huge big adventure – full of mundanity, but still there to be discovered and explored

Hence doing things like the play we are working on at the moment. It’s a huge challenge, but great fun at the same time. I know how it’s going to work out and it’s also just part of the adventure.

That’s what things should be about, I reckon: challenging and fun, otherwise imagine how boring everything would be?

So, it’s my birthday and I’ll continue to enjoy it, even as ordinary a day as it has been, just because I have decided to see it as special.


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