I celebrated my 30th birthday on Saturday, and it’s still hard for me to believe that I’ve been alive for three decades.
A week prior to my birthday, National Public Radio smacked me right in the face with the gravity of being alive for three decades with its coverage of the election conflict in Iran…they constantly referred to the fact that the level of unrest and public outrage over the current election had not been seen in THIRTY YEARS – the reporter continued to put extreme emphasis on the fact that it had been since 1979 – THREE DECADES – since that level of public protest. I turned the radio off.
The morning of my birthday was a little rough, no tears, but no jubilation. I felt like I was in a fog, with intermittent interruptions from loved ones calling to wish me a happy THIRTIETH birthday.
I needed to find grounding somewhere, so I headed over to my parents house. I wasn’t sure what I would find that would ground me there, but I just had a feeling that it would be there…I got to the house kissed my mother, father, grandmother, and cousin and then I started rummaging. I took out photos of my mother when she was pregnant with me, looked through my baby book, perused the headlines from the newspaper that my mother saved from June 20, 1979…and then, an amazing thing happened, I was looking through some of the cards that my mother kept from one of her baby showers and I found the following note:
For we were born because it was time, and we die in accordance with nature. If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow – joy and sorrow cannot affect us. This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage. There are those who cannot free themselves because they are bound by material existence. – Chang Tsu
DS Download: This message, given to mom on a note card, dated 1979, was right on time, 30 years later – June 20, 2009 – as I was grappling with my material existence, dealing with a slight fear of leaving my 20’s, having anxiety about the perceived responsibility that comes with my 30’s…that message got me right together.
Later that day I went on to watch old home movies of my parents, young and in love (before they even thought of having me), footage of them at Hampton Institute (yes, Institute), grandparents, aunts, uncles…I saw footage of some of my earliest birthdays. I digested memories; precious memories that I keep with me always, but that were good to actually be able to see on my father’s old movie projector (think opening sequence of Wonder Years).
I left my parents house feeling clear headed and 100% relaxed. Later that night I was 45 minutes late for my birthday dinner, and I didn’t even have a meltdown…at the after party at Policy I danced from the second I got into the door, not taking a moment to obsess about the time that others around me were having – I was determined to soak up the evening and enjoy it. I woke up the next morning feeling like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when she sang I Could Have Danced All Night…
On my 30th birthday, I got exactly what I wanted…I was surrounded by love. For all of my friends that are turning 30 this year, I wish the exact same for you!