Monday, April 17, 2006

From the land of Tir na nOg

A luscious red rose, smelling like one of the dozens of tea roses I used to grow in my garden in Seattle, arrived for me today. This picture doesn't really do it justice. It's the deepest red, and most velvet-textured rose I've seen in a long time! It has completely filled my little room with its intoxicating perfume, which reminds me of the real perfume called Joy. It was sent by my friend David and his wife Hiroko.

The countdown is almost over, and the big day is just about here. Tomorrow is my birthday, but it's no ordinary birthday. This is THE BIG ONE, the one I used to think that only very old people had.

I remember when my parents turned six-oh, and they were really old! I don't feel old! In fact, sometimes I forget how old I really am because most people guess me to be much younger. In my university class last week, students were asking me questions and trying to guess my age. The range was from an astonishing 29 (paleeeez!) to 38. Nobody said anything about 50s or even 40s!

Age seems to come up often, and people always act surprised when I tell them my actual age. I know there's such a thing as "being polite" and guessing younger, but that usually means maybe 10 years younger, at the most, not more than 20 years younger.

When they hear my age, they inevitably want to know if I've had cosmetic surgery or Botox treatments, to which I answer an honest "No."

A few weeks ago I went to see a doctor about my lingering cough from the flu, and took along a friend who acted as translator. He asked her a question. Her eyes lit up as she gleefully turned to ask me: "Are you pregnant?" We both laughed so hard we could barely wheeze out an answer. She told him I was almost 60 years old and his eyebrows shot up in disbelief as he let out a very long, Japanese-style "eeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh?" A couple of nurses and another doctor had overheard our conversation in the tiny examination room and peeked around the curtain to have a look. Now there were three other people going "eeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh?" One nurse finally said, "so young, so young." (He wanted to take an x-ray, and was maybe just being cautious. . .?)

Maybe I just have good genes. Or maybe it's my attitude toward life. I try to live in a way that honors and values all life. I have a positive mental attitude, despite the many tragic events of my life. From each one of those events, I've gained valuable knowledge about who I am, and why I'm here. It's humbled me and made me more compassionate toward others because I can understand their pain.

Perhaps, looking young comes from the inside. A healthy dose of deep introspection teaches one to stop worrying about the small things in life. Thinking more about those we love instead of those we hate does wonders for the spirit, and that radiates out into the world as the light of eternal youth.

There's a wonderful Irish film called Into the West , which tells about a land of eternal youth. In Gaelic, they call that land Tir na nOg. So, for an Irish birthday wish, I wish everyone eternal youth in such a land, and for me, I say, La-breithe mhaith agat (happy birthday)!


PeterD said...

Happy birthday!

Absolutely Tokyo! said...

Thank you so much, PeterD! Wish I could give you a slice of birthday cake!

Gaijin Girl said...

Hi AT, all the very best for your birthday today! Wow, this is a milestone and I found what you wrote to be amazing and made me think a lot, so thanks.
Hope you're out there shaking up Tokes!


Absolutely Tokyo! said...

Hi GG, thanks for your sweet wishes! Yes, it really is a milestone, and made me feel much braver. So, I changed my profile picture to one I took yesterday--full face!

Anytime our words make people pause and think, it's definitely a satisfying feeling. Thanks for YOUR words!

While I didn't exactly shake up Tokes, I DID manage to have a great day and evening with friends who took me out to lunch and to a wonderufl izakaya for a late dinner and drinks. Also got a beautiful strawberry birthday cake and more flowers!!! A great day!