It's my birthday today.
40 was a big deal (and that year, I don't know HOW many 40th birthdays I went to!), but between 40 and 45, it seems blurry and spongy. I've been forgetting all year if I'm 42 or 43.
I'm just coming out of a little low spell--seasonal allergies, not much gas left in the tank for the last 6 weeks of Yancey's training program, feeling generally uninspired (which I'm realizing is my LEAST favorite feeling.) I wasn't looking forward to much. One morning a couple weeks ago, having a quiet minute in my office before the kids woke up, a bolt of energy went through me and I almost said out loud, "I haven't died yet!"
When you think about it, it's incredible. Improbable. I came through my mother's birth canal and didn't get wrapped in the umbilical cord. I didn't crack my head on all the sets of stairs I navigated as a toddler or yesterday. I haven't ever wanted to take my own life or give up on life itself. That time I choked on an ice cube at Chuckanut Manor, I didn't die. Learning to ride my bike, birthing two children, driving thousands or maybe millions of miles in a steel-encased motor with wheels that goes 75 miles per hour. And all that time, I haven't died! Hooray!
I've been contemplating death a lot lately, I think in a good way. The way we all should. That we are all going to leave this earth and there's an invitation to get into it while we are here. Getting into it doesn't mean we're always happy. Or successful. Or passionate. Or inspired. (Shoot.) But that we give ourselves over to what Life is doing.
Emily is here for my birthday weekend (bliss!) and we were walking and talking today about how we've been using the wrong metaphor for energy. We often talk about it like a gas tank that's getting filled or getting emptied, how some people and endeavors fill it, how others siphon everything away. Instead, we want to think of ourselves as being caught up in the infinite, uncontrollable, always-enough Flow of Life, and we are just beings for it to move through. We don't need to worry about running out of energy or love or life. There's more where that came from! We just get to present to it. (A little easier said than done, of course.)
Between now and my next birthday, I want to not die. And I want to live like I've had a near-death experience. Even on my lowest, least-inspired day, I want to feel Divine Presence holding me up. I want to make more strawberry jam (Who else wants to do that on their birthday? Sigh.), tuck my kids into bed, watch more SNL clips with Wyatt, let the dog out in the morning, mist my houseplants. I want to give more money to the Lighthouse Mission and quit using so many Ziploc bags because I really do love this planet. I want to ask for forgiveness when I screw up, and I want to be in close enough relationship with my friends and neighbors and family that screwing up matters. I want to look in on the piles of laundry, remember they are about LIFE, and shut the door on them. And I hope I'm saying, whether all that happens or not, "It is well with my soul."