As each birthday passes I find that I become increasingly reflective. I consider similar subjects each year that are likely common to all to some degree but I thought it might be worth jotting down an idea or two upon this subject. Reaching the age of 44 is not an abhorrent idea to me. In fact, growing older has never been a problem because I have always wanted to be an adult. Being an adult gives the illusion that one has the power to make his or her own choices and mistakes. For the most part, there is that element of independence gained but none of us are ever truly free of an influence that contributes to our choices in life being limited. Many, especially we delusional Americans, believe everyone starts at the same start point when born but that is far from true.
Cultural, racial, gender, intellect, development, psychology, environment, genetic and economic influences all contribute to the number of choices or opportunities a person is born into. These things will either benefit or limit the individual depending upon the formula of variables. In the United States, a fallacy was sold to the masses eons ago in the idea of the “American Dream”. This states that if a person works hard, follows the rules of society, and refuses to give up regardless of the obstacles then he or she will be equipped to obtain one of the most coveted of dreams. The dream consists of, a stable income, a home, family, career, spiritual life, and individual freedoms. This is one of the greatest lies ever sold to the American people because most cannot attain it due to a complex combination of two or more of the above variables. In this society, success is measured by your wealth, status, and power. The “self-made man” is heralded as the epitome of the American Dream proving it can be accomplished but if you really look at the culmination of that life you will see a lifetime of moral and/or spiritual compromises that led that person to be at the top. No one is ever, “self-made”, for no one can get through this life alone. It is an arduous journey even if you happen to have what society considers to be multiple advantages on your side.
I have spent many birthdays in the past being angry, resentful, frustrated, confused, and unsettled because I had fallen for the ruse of the attainability of the American Dream. I worked myself out of poverty, earned a great education, and overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my environment and my health. I followed the rules of society but A + B does not always = C. My life is proof that a person can take all the right steps and never arrive at the obvious and expected goal. That used to infuriate me and steal my peace because I listened to the critics telling me that if I just tried harder then things would get better. I never had the illusion of becoming filthy rich but I did anticipate financial security and a rewarding career for my efforts. Perhaps even going as far as to dream of my own little house with the white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog or two had been entertained. Having enough to pay my bills and to make a difference for the better in society was my only real hope and dream.
Well, this year I am content with where I am at in life. I have discovered along the way that it is not what we accomplish in this world that really matters. Instead, it is the people whom we affect and who we allow to affect us. From the small interactions we have with the clerk at the check out to people with whom we interact and are considered, by society, to be of worth prove the true measure of a life. And I am not referring to having 100s or 1000s of likes or friends on social networking sites. Human to human interactions regardless if that is in cyberspace or in the flesh. Each person we interact with has the potential to teach us something about ourselves, the world, or life in general as long as we admit to ourselves that we do not possess all there is to know. I have known thousands of people in my lifetime and I am certain that I will meet thousands more and it is in those interactions where the wealth of life sits and waits to be discovered. There are people who will leave indelible prints upon our hearts and souls, others will leave open wounds and scars, while still others will make a cursory contribution to how we think, feel, act, or behave in the present and/or future. Each of these interactions are important even the ones that are painful. We learn from everyone even if the lesson is one we wished we could sponge out of our consciousness.
Throughout this past year remarkable and heartbreaking events occurred that have impacted who I am for the remainder of my days. Something happened that I never dreamed could have happened and something I had actively pushed away from my life, I fell in love with a wonderful, loving, caring man who saw me, with all my flaws, and loved me unconditionally. I was euphoric, as a silly schoolgirl might have been but I was happy, amazed, and completely awed. I considered it to be no less than a miracle doubling the awe I felt and the humbleness of being so incredibly blessed by God. God had showed me that he loved and cherished me by providing this unexpected gift. In the midst of worsening health conditions, I was given this wonderful blessing and I shall be forever grateful for it.
Likewise, I have met many wonderful people around the world through my writings and each is like salve for my soul, for it is proof that good and decent people exist and are working to heal this broken creation. Too many decades had passed with the negative people overwhelming the positive ones within my life but I can say that this past year has tipped the scales in the other direction and I am so grateful for that blessing.
Sadly, I have lost two very dear people to my heart within this past three months. First, the only man I have ever loved and most recently, a dear beloved Aunt, friend, and champion. Both were such wonderful people that there is a hole in the space they occupied; however, it has made me ever more grateful for the wonderful people that are still here walking upon or beside my path offering their love and support each step of the way. Hence, this year, this birthday, I have no regrets, anger, resentment, or sense of failure for not reaching my goals. I am exactly where the Lord needs me to be at this time in my life and I finally accept that and am eager to see who or what Christ will re-arrange in my life throughout the coming year. I must admit that I am not fond of saying good-bye to those I love but I know there will come a day when we are reunited so it is not really good-bye as much as it is, “see you later.” I am blessed in abundance with friends and loved ones and I will continue to take each step one by one until my journey is at its end and I can finally rest.
Hence, do not be consumed with getting to a pre-designed goal you have set because you think it will bring you happiness; instead, concentrate on the people in your life who make it worth living. That is the real wealth within your lifetime and it cannot be bought with any amount of gold, fame, or power. Birthdays are great times to assess the balance of your relationships. Take a hard look to see who is constantly making withdrawals from your life and then who is contributing. If there is one who takes too much too often then consider that person a hard lesson learned and move forward without them. We will all come to the same end in this mortal world and depending upon your spiritual views you may see it as a culmination of a life lived or just the beginning of an unimaginable adventure. I choose to believe the later negating any fear of the unknown or thinking that a life is simply extinguished at death. No, each person is important and has meaning in this creation but our lifetimes are so brief in the scope of all human history that we must realize that our time here is only the beginning. Our lifetimes prepare us for our eternal roles, if we choose to accept them. If not, then our lives have been a waste and we are ill-prepared for eternity.
Examine the most important thing in your life and decide if it is healthy to you and to others around you. What have you done for yourself and others over the past year? Again, balance is key here because there will come a day when you will look back over the decades and may realize that your choices have caused a disproportionate degree of harm to yourself and to others. Each choice we make matters and some carry more weight than others but once the choice is made then the commitment to it must be complete. You do great things in your lifetime even if the world chooses not to see or value it. What I do affects you and what you do affects me; therefore, we perform a cosmic dance of human interaction, which has an integral connection to the whole. Becoming more concerned with the whole rather than the self is a mark that you have arrived within middle age. Knowing with all certainty that so much exists of which you know nothing is a mark of wisdom. Therefore, on this birthday I am eager to learn, contribute, and examine the coming year with a curious mind and willing spirit. Thank you for choosing to join me on this journey. Blessings upon you all.