Till 120!

Erwin, (B. 1909, Taken 2011)

You know what today is? It’s my 30th birthday. Every year I’m racked with the birthday blues… I usually hide in my room and cry while ignoring phone calls from friends and family. Like a baby. This year I had my birthday panic attack early. (Exactly one week ago, I was crying in my shower thinking about all the lives I’ll never lead and telling my husband I’m the Jet Ski guy of NYC. What’s the Jet Ski guy? Its when you go on vacation and you see the guy who works the jet skis on the beach. And you think, this guy is LIVING THE DREAM! But then a week later you take off and realize, oh this guy is stuck here, this is his reality. Forever. He cant leave. Poor guy. Well, thats what I am to NYC. Living the dream, but I’m stuck here forever. Chained to this beast of an island.) Anyway, the panic isn’t about getting older, because I honestly don’t mind that. I kind of like the idea of being thirty. You stop seeming like a kid to other adults. Almost like you are finally a real person, finally. The physical changes are jarring though. What’s weird is that Ive been the same for a while now, same body, same mind, and I see my children growing along side me- even though I was staying the same, like a vampire, for the past 10 years. Its like reverse puberty, or reverse pregnancy.Now I’m starting to change too.  I wake up every day a little changed, a little different and I don’t know why or how this is happening.

Lets move on to the photos here. Last week, my husband showed me the work of German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen, wh0 photographed centenarians between 2006- 2011. Supposedly, there are less than 500,000 of them left in the world. He wanted to “look into the eyes of those who have seen an entire century.” His series focuses on the people he found with the best mental and physical health. His series makes old age seem noble, and dignified, not something we should wish away. I recently told someone, that I find nothing more fascinating than a portrait. And I think these works really speak to that. What kind of person does it take to make it to 100 years old with grace and dignity? I dont know, it must be a serious strength of spirit along with good genes and great luck. Right? And these people dont look a day over 80!  When you have a birthday, Jews will tell you “Till 120!” Supposedly it’s the age that Moses lived to be, and it’s the age at which we should all be happy to close up shop. While I might normally say “No Thanks, I’m already world-weary at 30…”   They say “his eye had not dimmed, and his vigor had not diminished.” and THAT is the true blessing.

Erika (Born 1910, Taken 2011

Gustav B 1910, Taken 2011

Margarithe 1911, Taken 2011

 Two articles that I really loved that talk about the people who live into really old age:

The Island Where People Forget to Die. HERE.

And What Do A Bunch of Old Jews Know About Living Forever? HERE

Be sure to check out the site for this work, titled Happy at 100. You can see more beautiful images of centenarians, as well as now and then shots. HERE. 

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  1. Happy birthday, Nicole! I totally hate birthdays too. But hell, its almost the weekend and I hope you have a fabulous party for yourself too.

  2. Happy Birthday! Totally know how you feel…My 30th is right around the corner….crazy. Have a great weekend!

  3. happy happy 30th! i cant believe you are so young, you have accomplished so much already!

    my boyfriend is turning 30 next week and you are wayyy ahead of him in terms of life goals :) i wish you the best year yet and a wonderful day (or weekend!?) celebrating with your gorgeous fam :)

    TIL 120!

  4. Lauren says:

    Have an amazing birthday!

  5. Great post, and so appropriate to show those wonderful photos on your birthday.

  6. Happy birthday and thanks for sharing such great photos!

  7. Happy Birthday darling from one who is well on her way to 120 and loves you very much. xo xo

  8. Bri@meyouandawiener says:

    We getter better with age anyways. Feliz Compleanos!

  9. Elisa says:

    Happy Birthday! You never fail to write the most interesting posts. Thank you for that.

    • Elisa says:

      Don’t know if my earlier comment made sense. Intended to say that I enjoy reading your posts and perspective! Till 120

  10. mmish says:

    Loved reading this post…HAPPY 30TH Birthday!!!

  11. Marielle says:

    amazing post…love you sista! happy birthday again! and you only get better with age…i’m a witness! xoxo

  12. What a wonderful idea. They all look so dignified and honorable. Cheers to your 30th…. Don’t wish it away!

  13. Dee says:

    Nic this post is so amazing and beautiful. You are so authentic and truly speak from the heart on sketch42. Love looking at the portraits- remind me of my grandpa. Love you. Happy birthday lots of beauty and roots adventures forever!

  14. Coincidence…I just saw your blog and my birthday is also April 12. So I made it to 57. Don’t cry–life gets deeper and richer and always better as we age.

    Belated happy birthday! Create a new tradition for yourself!

    • Nicole Cohen says:

      Thank you! I had a great birthday weekend (friday was a rainy mess though) I hope you did too!

  15. Happy belated birthday!! I hope it was a wonderful one. I always get sad on my birthday as well….I think like you I become sensitive to the meaning of everything. This should be a fabulous decade though! ANd I have even heard the best is in your 40s….so only good things ahead :)