I wanted so much to sit down and write something very thoughtful and reflective today, as I have in past years on my birthday. The last twelve months have certainly given me plenty to say; they’ve been full of interesting insights and realizations, lots of renewed human connection, and important steps toward coming home to myself.
When I wrote last year’s birthday post, still in the shadow of the great breakup of 2017, I was wounded and bewildered. I’ve let a lot of that go. I’ve stopped feeling resentful about the fact that things went differently than I thought they would. I no longer feel a sense of injustice about what happened; it’s just what happened. And I’m at peace with the fact that I’m mapping out a new life and new direction for myself. It’s still hazy and uncertain, but the future is always uncertain. I’m starting to appreciate how much freedom I have, which is overwhelming at times, but is its own blessing.
These things aside, I’m short on words today. I’m still feeling sick—now with an ear infection too, which I’m fortunately being treated for. I’m not feeling as anxious or fearful as I was on Sunday, but I’m conscious of being tired and turned inward. I have a strong, clear sense that my only priority right now is to take care of my body, which is what I’ll do more of today. My blogger’s instinct is to say more or share more—to process my feelings in greater detail or to search for lessons beneath them—but sometimes it’s important to say only what’s true and not say any more.
I said something akin to this to a very dear friend over email the other day—I told her that I was short on words, and also that I was feeling discouraged and weary. She said that my words were perfect; they were the truth. I was surprised at how directly her email touched my heart; I began to cry as soon as I’d read it. I didn’t realize how badly I must have wanted, or needed, for someone to remind me that being honest is enough.
So this is where I am, honestly, on my thirty-sixth birthday: a little wiser, I think, and apprehending the interesting, unknown future that stretches out before me. Still a bit lost; still paused at a life crossroads and wondering which way I’ll go. Time will tell. And time is the true birthday gift: another year added to the journey.
In the past few days, when I’ve felt overwhelmed, I’ve gone to sit in the park near my apartment, breathing in fresh air and listening to the springtime symphony of birds chirping in the trees. There’s been a lot of cool breeze this week, which has been soothing.
It’s gotten me thinking of how important it is to be with nature in moments of uncertainty, fear, or doubt. And it brings to mind a Wendell Berry poem I’ve always loved, “The Peace of Wild Things.” I thought I’d share it today, for myself but also for any other person who might need it:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The birthday wish I make for myself this morning is to have a year filled with moments like the one Berry describes: moments of grace, wonder, and faith in the rhythms of life’s unfolding.
I wish it for all of you, too. Thank you for celebrating another year with me, and I’ll “see” you on Sunday for the usual roundup.