abundance · adulthood · community · joy · life · love

Having My Cake and Eating It Too.

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(Yes, I’m gonna go there. Bear with me!)
In 12-step recovery it is custom to acknowledge lengths of
sobriety or abstinence. Within the first year, we often acknowledge monthly
mile-markers, and after a year, we acknowledge annual “birthdays” or “anniversaries.”
Why do this? Why stand up in front of others and say that
you’ve accomplished something? Isn’t that selfish and self-seeking? Why does it matter?
Well, the conventional wisdom is that it shows others that
it’s possible. You’re not actually doing it for yourself, although that’s quite
nice; you’re helping others to see that “one day at a time” adds up to months,
and even years. You’re offering hope to others.
In our “belly-button birthday” world, why acknowledge our
birthdays either? I have friends who eschew celebrating their birthdays. Why
celebrate? It’s not like you *did* anything. You just lived another day.
And, just as with recovery, to me, that’s the point these
days.
It’s to celebrate and share the fact that you made it. That you are alive. You did do something: You lived.
A former mentor of mine used to call this our “precious
human life.” A Buddhist, her meaning is how rare it is to inhabit a human form this lifetime. We
could have been a tree or a toad or a fruit fly, alive for 24 hours, unconscious.
But we’re not.
We’re animated, active, Fate-affecting. And Fate-affected.
We’re constantly learning and changing and fighting and
hoping and loving and hating and struggling and triumphing. We’re constantly
forming ideas of who we are and who the world is; where we are and where we
want to be.
We’re creating our lives with every breath we have the
privilege to draw.
So when a co-worker the other day shushed everyone as we wished her a happy birthday, saying she doesn’t do birthdays, I did whisper to her, But imagine the
alternative.
We do fight to be here, conscious or not; every day, we are
making a decision to try. No matter what that looks like, even if it looks like
stagnation or the mundane. Even if we are
the tired, poor huddled masses. We
try.
The celebration of a birthday is an acknowledgement of a
year of living. A year of something precious and rare and teeming with
uncertainty and, hopefully, love.
Today, I turn 33 years old. I have survived alcoholism,
dysfunction, gang rape, and cancer.
I have formed and smashed relationships. I have melted and
embraced. I have survived my own machinations. And become a metallurgist.
I, my friends, am an alchemist. And I honor us all today by
showing you:
We live.

And how!

With love,m.

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