I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and woke up to this photo, texted to me by my husband (who was in the kitchen making breakfast)…
Dave had staged it the day before and apparently Max willingly went along.
I’m still laughing.
That’s always a good way to start a birthday, especially since mine is on April 15th. Tax Day here in the U.S.A.
For my entire life, people have been saying the same thing when they find out this is the day I was born: Oh, Tax Day!
A look of consternation crosses their faces, as if it must be pretty bad to have this birthday.
But you know what? I actually like it. It’s a good, solid, upstanding day, right in the middle of the month. A month when everything’s blooming. Like tulips…
And you’re not sure you’ve ever noticed quite that shade of pink before. Or quite that much depth to the green stems. It’s almost like you’ve developed the capacity for X-ray vision overnight, seeing in ways you haven’t seen before.
So not only did we make a tulip run on my birthday, but there were daffodils too…
Given that April brings all this bounty, I’m fine with my birthday.
Which is not to say I haven’t sometimes spent my birthday/Tax Day huddled over a pile of receipts, chain-smoking and throwing back shots of tequila.
(Kidding! Well, not the receipts part, but the smoking and tequila parts.)
This year, though, the taxes were finished and I could have done almost anything for my birthday: throw a party, travel to a new place, cross a few things off the bucket list (if I had one).
You might say it’s warranted, since I’ve just completed a years-long professional journey and am beginning a new life chapter, not to mention a new life decade.
But the parties and travel and bucket lists don’t call to me right now.
In fact, I really had no plans for my birthday. I only knew that I wanted it simple, special, meaningful.
And how it unfolded was perfect.
A home cooked breakfast, a couple of gardening books, a lovely scarf infused with the colors of spring…
A fair bit of lazing in the sun and gazing out the window at the trees. Then a drive and an early dinner at the Union Hotel in Occidental…
On the outdoor patio. Lush. Oozing warmth and contentment…
We sat next to a blooming lilac…
Once we’d finished our meal we headed over to Shell Beach for a walk along the bluff trail…
The evening was clear and brisk and windy…
The wildflowers were in bloom…
The sun was just beginning to set…
As the last bit of sun dipped below the horizon and we packed up to go home, it occurred to me that I’ve experienced all of these things (the outdoor patio, the bluff trail, the wildflowers, the coastal sunset) at least a dozen times before.
And it doesn’t take a birthday to make them (or anything in our lives) special and meaningful.
The specialness and meaningfulness I was after are available right here, right now. Pretty much all the time.
We usually don’t even have to work hard to get it.
Of course I’m not discounting the energy that’s gone into creating the life I have now, or how fortunate I am to live it.
What I’m saying is we can often make meaning by noticing and saying it’s so.
Feeling into it. Sinking down. Deepening. Letting go. Releasing. Turning toward.
We don’t have to do very much.
In fact, the times when I’ve exerted (and believed) a certain amount of effort was required to make things just so, well, they were far less meaningful than my recent birthday.
This reminds me that too often we skip over meaning-making opportunities that are right in front of us, in favor of some elaborate vision of a meaningful life (or day) that’s far in the distance.
So remembering that it’s been there all along, right outside the back door? Well, that’s something to celebrate.
Towards the end of the day, when there wasn’t much birthday left, I asked Dave to sing to me.
One round of Happy Birthday to You.
Then a second, with me singing along.
Finally a third, trying to harmonize together.
Right then I realized I hadn’t made a wish or blown out any candles.
Since there were no birthday candles to be had at that late hour, Dave lit a pillar candle.
I turned out the lights.
Made a wish.
Blew out my candle.
I don’t think I’m supposed to tell you what I wished for, but I don’t care about that.
I wished for many more simple days, like this one.
What do you wish for?
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