There was only one aspect of my birthday I obsessively planned. No, it wasn't presents or dinner or an activity or anything that would fill my day with wonder.* For months, I mentally prepared my birthday breakfast. Trader Joe's chocolate croissants. I'd eyed their promised gooey chocolate filling and flaky crusts for months. Several times I'd almost bought them on impulse, but the overnight proofing process always thrust me back to sensibility.
But aren't birthdays made to shake off the sensible?
So I held off on the purchase, promising that a boring Tuesday birthday would at least be blessed with pastry. So I waited. Then bought. Then ate. And it was OK. Not the most incredible thing I've eaten, but perfectly satisfactory.
Sometimes, I feel like that's life as I get older. It's not a non-stop adventure. A lot of things I pictured as I aged—being a respected artist, or a leader in a community, or a voice people listen to—are yet to happen. My life at this moment is not incredible. It's not a croissant from the corner bakery in Paris. My life is a perfectly satisfactory Trader Joe's chocolate croissant, a fine experience with shots of hot-melted sweetness.
Listening to a forever favorite as my first song of the year, then starting a playlist of all my signature songs? Sweetness.
Driving over Lake Washington into the blaze of the rising sun? Sweetness.
The students who brought me gifts and handmade posters, all of their own volition? Sweetness.
Taylor remembering the concert I'd told him about months ago and getting tickets? Sweetness.
Seattle deciding to be summer for a week, gifting me with sun, and 80° temperatures, and a chance to take a walk/longboard with my husband and kid in the evening? Ultimate sweetness.
I'll take 29. I'll savor it. Maybe I'll plan for incrementally more. Next year, I'll plan breakfast and lunch. And with those expectations, as with the rest of my existence, I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
*In fact, I didn't plan anything to do on the day. Taylor kept asking me what I wanted for dinner, and I had no clue. People would ask me what I was doing to celebrate, and I'd shrug. For the most part, this was an unplanned event. Which kind of worked. Honestly, I do think the key to a happy life is low expectations.