Suddenly, I’m 33. The same age as Jesus in his final year on earth. I wonder if I should have achieved more by now?
The morning is overcast and drizzly. 5 days into autumn. I’ve always found my birthday a deeply reflective time, changing seasons, changing age.
I cradle a cup of tea and watch Matilda exploring the landscape of the lounge room floor. She opens a vibrantly illustrated book of the alphabet and sits, content, turning the pages. I have a sudden pang of pride: she already loves books. The colours, the pictures, the words. If I do nothing else right as a parent, I’ll be happy with that.
I bang on a lot about the passage of time, life’s brevity, being present to everything. I want to drive the message home to my tired cynical brain because I’m scared of sleeping through life.
A new age brings a new opportunity to focus on the important things in life, and maybe this will be the year I bake a cake. Who knows? I’m coming to peace with the parts of myself I thought would be different by now. Like an interest in baking.
Here are some other things I’ve learnt:
Making my bed at the start of the day has a mysterious effect on my productivity and motivation. I still don’t know what this is, but I’ll keep doing it.
Life is endlessly fascinating when I seek knowledge. When I learn the name of birds and trees and bugs. You realise that we’re never alone, these sentient beings share this moment in time with us. All you have to do is look (and Google).
Life can be endlessly colourful when you celebrate beauty: when you seek it out in a song or a painting. I’m listening to Bill Evans ‘Peace Piece’ and soaking up the gentle rolling piano riff with his playful improvisation over the top. I try to look for one beautiful thing a day, like a Berocca. One sparkling buzz of vitamins to get me through.
Friends come and go but the good ones will stick. Leave everything how you found it, unless you can improve it.
I have come to peace with the fact that there are things about me that might never change. The annoying habits, self-sabotaging emotional states. I’ve learnt to steer my imperfect self through the world causing the least amount of damage as possible and apologise when I get it wrong. Life’s short.
No amount of counselling or digging up past pains compares to the healing love of community. Being surrounded by people you are safe to be vulnerable with and walk through life together.
I certainly wouldn’t discount the help of professionals but without good people holding you, growth is much harder. And I suspect that an infinity of naval gazing will prove itself void.
No one person will ever complete you. No one holds the key to your wholeness, except perhaps faith in a higher being, or universe or however you might phrase it. I call Him God.
He’s my anchor when life rages through the storms and the older I get, the more real this spiritual dimension has become to me. It’s like the fish swimming in water, asking ‘what’s water?’ We live and breathe it and it’s there when you’re looking for it. Just swallow the red pill.
If I could pass on one thing to my daughter, it would be: don’t let your heart turn hard with cynicism. When you’re bombarded with the 24/7 news cycle and it feels like the world’s falling down around you, pandemic with sickness and death and injustice, hold onto hope.
Learn the names of the birds in the trees outside your window and seek beauty. Even a subtle shift in direction can change the course of your life over time.
I’m still working out how to do all this, so I hope she’s a quick learner.
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