Twenty-five. For some reason, it's a hard number to wrap my mind around. For the first time I can remember, I wasn't eager to celebrate my birthday this year. Besides the fact that I thought it would be awkward to force my new boyfriend into meeting all of my friends simultaneously at a big party, this year I found greater appeal in quietly celebrating one-on-one with various friends. Yesterday I met Irene for a stroll around the Cultural Center (from which none of my photos turned out, or else I would have posted separately on that), I had dinner with Lauren, and today, I spent the day with Zac, visiting the Art Institute. I wanted to catch their new temporary exhibit: Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917.

I am not a particular fan of Matisse's work, and as such, although the exhibit held some interesting pieces, I was not especially moved. What I did find interesting about the exhibit was its focus on Matisse's working method -- for each canvas and sculpture, Matisse would work and rework the concept, applying layers, scraping the surfaces, removing compositional elements, constantly second-guessing himself until he arrived at a result with which he could be satisfied. Today, on the occasion of my twenty-fifth birthday, something about his process really struck a chord with me.

When I was younger, I had a bulletin board in my bedroom where I pinned various fortunes from fortune cookies, and other inspiring quotes and maxims that I had come across. One that I enjoyed the most stated, "Life is a work of art, created by the one who lives it." For Matisse, the creation of art was not a simple process of vision and realization; instead, it was a laborious process of constant re-evaluation and change. I am beginning to realize that life is the same way.

At twenty-five, I am not where I thought I would be; I always imagined I would have figured out my career, be living a more independent life, and possibly even be married by now. Life had other things in mind, but I take solace in the steps I have taken in the past year to come closer to actualizing those dreams. Life at twenty-five isn't what I envisioned, but my expectations have changed as well. Like Matisse, I am working on adjusting and honing my situation to get where I want to be, and like any artist, I am taking satisfaction in the act of creation, not just the finished product.

So here I am, poised half way between twenty and thirty. The whole "halfway to thirty" thing is a little scary, to be sure, but on balance, life is good. It's a work in progress, and I'm learning how to be fine with that. So on that note, Happy Birthday to me...

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