longevity. . .

by mulberryshoots

Wikipedia ginkgo leaf photo

Before Christmas and the visits with my children and granddaughters, I found that I had been moping around about aging and fatalistic about how long I would live and what I might do with the time I have left. The culture we live in bombards us with how to stay young, how to look and feel better, exercise, eat more healthy foods. But not much is said about the quality of our lives in the context of purpose, as we go from our 60’s to being 70. And then from 70 on to 80. And, if you’re lucky, I guess, even beyond that.

I had made a book for my family that contained a number of my posts describing my life along with photos of the family that I gave to them on my birthday, which comes a few days after Christmas every year. I had in mind that it was especially meant for my granddaughters, Anna and Josie because they will have a chance to know me, as I want to be known, long after I’m gone from their landscape. Then, I started to think about how Anna might be more interested in reading it when she turns forty. And after a little quick math, I discovered that it might even be physically possible for me to still be around at that time, albeit in my early nineties. That was a revelation! That I could still be alive when these little kids grow up that much more!

Anna at sixteen, holding Josie, age 16 months old!

At the same time last week, my husband George, had said he would give me a gift for my birthday of my own choosing. And I found a silver ring with a ginkgo leaf as its central theme on Etsy. Before I settled on it, I looked up the meaning of the ginkgo tree and found that it means, yes, you guessed it, “longevity.” It is representative of one of the longest living trees around–sometimes 2000 years old. In addition, the leaves are symbolically important to asian cultures. What really did it, though, was discovering that the ginkgo tree is also called the “maidenhair tree.” And as many of you know, the maidenhair fern is my plant totem from a long way back. (Please take a look at my post, “more breathing room”.)

If you look closely at the leaf shapes of the ginkgo biloba tree and maidenhair fern photos in this post, there is definitely a family resemblance.

And so I thought and George agreed: what better birthday gift could there be than something that represents longevity? And that’s how all this has come about. The visit with the kids and grandkids has made me feel differently about living (a lot) longer. Of course, I still believe that one’s quality of life is composed of one’s intention, lived one day at a time. But for the first time in a long time, I’ve begun thinking there might be more of them in store.

Plus, the silversmith who is making the ginkgo leaf ring for me, is the same person who bought the I-Ching book in the post below. Serendipity and synchronicity to the max, wouldn’t you say?