Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 State of the Self Address

Four years ago I began delivering the “State of the Self;” a reflection on the past year of life which is always given the evening of my birthday. This is my 2010 State of the Self.

February 27, 1979 is the day I stopped breathing someone else’s air and began breathing on my own. It was not by choice. The woman’s body is built only to support another life for so long before the placenta begins to thin, before the protective and nourishing sac of life begins to deteriorate. It’s like our birthday is our first eviction and the landlord is out mother’s body.

A birth. A day.

I spare no indulgence on the 27th of February and, previous to this year, birthdays always meant my customary helium balloon, sheet cake with vanilla satin icing, and a long list of “must to do” things that include morning mimosas, naps, writing, dreaming, and sniffing around closets and car trunks for my hidden gifts. For the record, I never pretend to be more than a child on my birthday, save the mimosas.

But this birthday is different. This is my first birthday as a mother. This is the first birthday in which the word “birth” and “day” have extracted themselves from streamers and sweets and grew into profound meaning. “Birth,” as in, a son, my firstborn. Day has grown to be more than the frame of 24 hours. “Day” is now gift.

Last year, my State of the Self focused on my identity as a writer. My pen itself nearly throbbed with pain as I described the challenges of creative writing. Now, I worry less about identity as a writer and more about truthfulness. Being truthful with Isaiah may very well be the most challenging task of my life.

And one truth I am going to share with my son is to take moments for himself. Or as I like to put it: Breathe in the awesome. I never understood those who hated their birthday. I suppose it can be viewed as a self-important concept, but the celebration of life, of my own life has always superceded any other reason to deny the day. Those who dread their birthday often do so because of a number – age. Or it reminds them of death.

Birth, for me, evokes the boundless beginning of life.

But if birthdays aren’t your cup of tea, I hope and pray that you do find a day, a time to rejoice in your own life in the very miracle of your existence. Because if we can’t find a reason or an hour to relish in our blessings, to be authentically and radically grateful for our friends, family, lovers, gifts, talents, experiences, insights, and lessons – I don’t know if we’re truly seeing ourselves – or life – clearly enough.

Thirty-one years is more than enough reason for cake and drinks. And after birthing my son, I know that thirty-one seconds alone is more than enough reason for celebration. The paradox of birth – its fragility and its power – must, begs, needs to be recognized. And celebrated. Isaiah has taught me that.

So, my state at 31 is one of utter grace. Grace of understanding. Grace of frustration. Grace of holy parenting and emotion. It is a period of firsts and failures and finding that my life can hold so much more than I ever thought possible. That realization also came with the responsibility that I myself am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible.

It is my birthday wish that everyone – at some point in their life – births new life and it need not be a child. A revolution, a concept, relationship, invention, methodology, habit or path that inducts an enhanced thought-process, a better more gentle way of loving and being in the world.

Because if we all took a moment to birth and rejoice in our own birthing, the state of grace would no longer be a temporary lingering, but an everlasting positioning of soul.

2 comments:

  1. I quite liked your writing a lot. It got a bit preachy towards the end. An interesting adn well-thought out reflection, though. Do you then find that having children is necessary for fulfillment in life?

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  2. Gapinghole:

    It is my birthday wish that everyone – at some point in their life – births new life and it need not be a child. A revolution, a concept, relationship, invention, methodology, habit or path that inducts an enhanced thought-process, a better more gentle way of loving and being in the world.

    "...it need not be a child..."

    ReplyDelete

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