“What do you want for your birthday?” An age-old question that used to send me to the pages of the Toy “R” Us catalog, now sends me to my desk with feelings of overwhelm and strong desire to make sense of it all.
So I write. I write every year around my birthday for the sentiment, for the denouement that only occurs once the curation of thoughts has been fully formulated and executed through the writing process. A process where satisfaction is solely achieved through a nonlinear and imperfect series of steps; editing and removing, deleting and rewriting, scratching out words in a tattered, coffee-stained Moleskine, clicking keys in the dead of night when sleep is impervious but ideas flow rapidly. All for the moment where the words somehow create a symphony, while small, prolific in the understanding and closure it somehow provides.
I’m convinced that getting older simply means seeing the world through more definitive eyes; each passing year like peeling back the layers of an onion, more raw and potent with every discarded cortex. Amongst many things, this year I’ve been working ruthlessly to discard the deceptive idea that there is a right moment or perfect set of circumstances from which to proceed to the next endeavor. It’s an elusive and logical thought on the surface: once X is fixed or complete, I will then proceed to Y.
The only problem: humans are complex, dynamic beings with intricate thought patterns and emotions.
I’ve long and alone been trying to solve deep-rooted, multifaceted issues using a simple equation, an equation that only addresses one side of something so protean. So, I’ve surrendered to the couch three days a week, also known as psychotherapy, where I’ve actually obtained a strong sense of relief from talking about my fears and everything that has been and continues to be fucked up.
Another year, another layer peeled back.
People often compare terrifying moments and big decisions to jumping off a cliff, but what we often forget is that we’ve already jumped. Life is like free falling; eventually we’ll land. There will be no time left for debating or decisions, what-ifs or goodbyes. So I’m learning to get comfortable with that nauseating feeling of falling. We may not have control over the fall, but we do have some control over what happens midair. That fleeting, gut-wrenching feeling that presents itself as fear is actually encouraging us get out in the world and live. Shitty and slightly magical, huh?
With every layer peeled back, through all the unraveling and rawness of life, there is still an inexplicable magic. As I’ve gotten older, it’s come wrapped in an entirely different package. It’s the gratitude of catching that first glimpse of the sunrise on my morning run. It’s that connection with a stranger or a moment of kindness when it’s least expected. It’s being curled up next to my husband on a plane, sharing the pages of The New York Times. It’s rich relationships and pure love, text messages and phone calls, moments where the world feels small and intimate.
“What do you want for your birthday?”
I encourage you to start thinking about it now. I encourage you to think about it when life feels dark and gritty and when the moments seem fleeting. I encourage you to think about it when you’re elated and filled with gratitude. Observe every moment. What do you want from the wildly, ephemeral life?
This year, I want my friends scattered around my dinner table more often, filled with great food and even better wine. I want to find the courage to tell the people that I love, how much I truly love them. I want to skip the small talk and start saying the things that really matter. I want to feel more propelled by inspiration and less by perfection. I want to laugh more. I want to see beauty in the days where things feel off or uncomfortable. I just want to soak this life all in. Every last little drop.
Cheers to 26.