“Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.” This line is one that I thought best for today, for my “re-birth day,” and is a gift from the author Elizabeth Gilbert. She goes on to tell me, well, she’ll tell all of us if we want to pay attention, to “own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on.” Can there be any better way than this to reflect on the year behind that is over, and simply go? Go on. Go ahead. Move forward. Step off.
You really do get to be ‘born again’ every year if you want to. All your birthday is is a recognition of the day you were born, it’s up to you, and totally up to you, once you are all ‘grown up,’ what you want it to mean. I feel like I’m at an age where I find it useful to deeply ponder over my last year, and think about what I want to change or modify, and take note of any and all things that made me mildly distressed, or wildly angry, the year before, and let my rebirth address these things…to resolve the unresolved, to tend the tattered, to amend the awry…it seems like a perfect thing to do on your birthday, and today is my birthday so this is what I will do.
For me my birthday involves a little bit of guilt; I nearly could have killed my poor mother on my birth-day. Just to be clear, my mother didn’t instill this guilt, it’s mine alone from knowing the story about the day I was born. I was in the frank breech position, which if you don’t know, means your head is lying on your knees and you enter the world bottom first…In this modern world, doctors don’t even let a woman consider a natural birth like this, they just prep the momma for a c-section, but in the 1960’s when you were young and had no insurance they just stuck a needle in your spine and let mother nature nearly kill you…but then you have your lovely baby…so I feel some guilt every year on my birthday, but because I have tried to be a good daughter and a good person, I like to believe that I made that brutal delivery ‘worth it’ to my mom.
When we are infants and toddlers and preschoolers and children and adolescents and teenagers, each year is more or less thought about in milestones, what did we make happen? …first steps, first songs, first play date, first award, first kiss, first car…what you achieved, what you can now do that you could not do before, actual growth and newness is celebrated each year we have a birthday while we are young, but we then reach adulthood…well then what? Not much changes when we are adults. A wrinkle on my forehead that was not there the last time I looked, gray hairs that were not on my scalp last week, a creak in my knee when going down the stairs that I did not notice last time I went down the stairs, the inability to sleep soundly through the night…other than these sorts of things, things stay remarkably the same…same vehicle, same job, same address, same lawyer, same Visa card…and the sameness of year after year becomes less than celebratory.
We can continue to evolve and continue to try to be better, year after year, than we were the year before, or we can just be. Dwell in what is, dwell in what was, just float, rather than swim. By the way, I can’t. Swim. I could swim well enough that I am pretty sure I won’t ever drown, but I have no skills to really propel myself forward. I do however have a fondness for metaphor of growth and change.
I’ve made many questionable choices over the years. I’ve given myself many moments of reflection that involve head shaking and dismal thoughts with frowning. You know what all of those moments give me? Nothing. Well, they give me wrinkles and gray hairs and a perpetually upset stomach and anxiety filled sleeplessness. I think I’ll pass. None of those things feel good. None of those feelings are like a gift I can give myself.
A gift that costs nothing is reflecting on what IS good, what HAS worked out well…the little bits, or big bits if you’re lucky, of perfection that you savored over the year, and the joys that gave you a memory to treasure. Do a check on where you went wrong, and determine what you want to go right, and be finished with it…There is absolutely nothing that can be changed about what is already done. ALL WE CAN DO IS MOVE ON AND KEEP GOING. THAT my friends is the gift we can give ourselves on our rebirth day. I read years ago in a Mark Manson blog that the most common cause of upset and anxiety is constant anger over unresolved conflicts…seems to me that a birthday ought to be the perfect day to fix it, whatever it is, and fix it good.
Wake up and let the past be behind us and know that if we have a goal, we must act upon that goal with every decision. If we have a plan we must act upon that plan with every choice. If we have a mission we must act upon that mission with every action. Otherwise it’s all just smoke and mirrors, nothing real or substantial about change or birthday wishes. I’ve read a quote that asks something like, are the choices you are making today getting you any closer to where you want to be tomorrow? I think that is the best kind of wish we can make when we blow out our candles…a wish to make finding the best choice the easiest choice, the most obvious one, that we act smartly and effectively towards fulfilling said wish…a wish to stick with the vision we’ve got of the BIG Picture, and get there, however quickly or slowly our decisions & actions can take us there…
I am not sure yet this morning what I am doing today. I have not yet decided if I will go to work. I am uncertain if I will stick close to home or go off on an adventure. I am unclear about much of what I will do on this rebirth day, but one thing I am sure of; I will think about this next year in front of me and what to do better…Did you know you are writing your story of your very own life? It is ours to rip up and start over, or just erase a few sentences, or jump ahead to move on to another chapter…but the big climactic joy of things coming together for the heroine, and the blissfully happy ending, are ours to pen.