Today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to me. I sit in my bathrobe and check my email after writing in my journal and drinking coffee on the day-bed by the window. This is what I do most mornings, being a mostly-unemployed writer and all, but on this day, I remind myself that I needn't feel guilty for it, don't need to measure this day's success by how many things I check off my to-do list.
I feel better today than I did yesterday, I feel the love coming in, the calls from old friends, the one-liners on Facebook, the small ways we reach out to people and strive for connection each day. But I must admit, I've been feeling melancholy the last few days... mostly hormonal I suspect, and yet, what do hormones do but bring out to the surface what is already there? Latent sadness, depression when checking craigslist for jobs, feeling overwhelmed by the hugeness of my goals and the smallness of my accomplishments.
I used to always feel a certain melancholy on my birthday. I wanted to be honored and surrounded by my friends, and yet I also carried a certain heaviness, a desire to be alone, contemplative and silent. I wanted to throw parties and bring together the small scattered community that I knew, yet I also did not like being at the center of attention. I remember throwing a small party one year and not even telling people it was my birthday. In truth, I wanted the attention, but I feared opening myself to that wanting and then being disappointed.
Today, I mostly feel gratitude. Gratitude for the constants in my life, the deep souls that are with me, the support and the faith that people share with me, the knowing that I have made conscious choice after conscious choice that have led me here to this moment, and that I don't need to be anywhere else than where I am. I know my own challenges, goals, fears; I sit down each day to face them logically, calmly, as I cross things off a list, and then wind down at night to face them emotionally, passionately, drinking wine and listening to music, sometimes reading back on what I've started by day and editing from a deeper place that has no tolerance for half-truths or evasion.
The other night I had one of those moments of sheer gratitude, looking back and taking in all the work I've done, knowing I wouldn't have done it any other way, even if that means my resume reads as a series of one contract job to the next, trying to cover up all the gaps, and even if that means that I sometimes only feel qualified to write, or teach writing, or to help people go deeper into their stories and unmask the deepest intentions of their heart.
I guess what I want to say on this day, my birthday, my day of official of striving for no guilt or judgment for doing what I'm doing and being who I am, is to remember to honor yourself in this same way, every day. To remember that you are beautiful, and that all of us, no matter how we present ourselves or seem to be in life, are just trying to figure things out, trying to find love and happiness and balance, trying to figure out what is most important to us, how we can pay bills and feel safe and secure at the same time that we stay rooted in our deepest, wildest essence. That, my friends, is not an easy thing to do.
I wrote to myself this morning that I know when I am old I will look back on my life and shake my head and think, "Child, you worried too much." I need to remember that we don't ever finally arrive at that plateau we were always striving for, that THIS is it, and if we don't grasp it now, if we don't hold on and love and shine and laugh and celebrate our beauty and freedom now, we never will be satisfied. This is the place from which I want to live and love, this place of gratitude, vitality, deep breaths, and tears. Yes, tears. I welcome them when they come, a shedding of skins, a cyclical outpouring, releasing what has slowly risen day by day and now overflows at the surface. I am not afraid of tears-- yours or my own.
Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to you, may you walk this day with gentle acceptance, may you cradle your own heart in the palm of your hand, may you stroke your own hair with the same tenderness that you would a child, may you never forget how precious you are and how far, how far we have all come.