Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jesus and the Saints

It's that time of year again, kittens. The eve of my birthday, when I get all soulful and reflective. I think this night is the anniversary of the closest I've been to that tenuous line between life and death. My mother went into labor on this night, and so this is when I suppose I decided to cross into this world and blink among the living.

There is something monumental, magical, ephemeral about 33. For one, three has always been my favorite number, and for two, despite my thoughtful nutrition, sleep, and exercise patterns, I know I'm unlikely to make it to 333, so this is as good as it will get for me (numerically speaking). There has never been a more perfect age or number (which I'm sure I'll address as I begin to approach 34). Even Jesus decided that 33 was all he had in him.

My BFF likes to remind me of this fact. Jesus died at 33. It's not the most welcoming thought for an age, but since I made a commitment several years ago that every birthday is a good birthday, I'm approaching with open arms and open eyes. That's what I did 33 years ago, too. I was born silent, with eyes wide open. Seeking.

And I'm not finished yet! I don't know that I have goals for myself this year, but I do have dreams and ambitions. I'd love to finally get that passport and sink my toes into the soil or sands of another country. I'd like to get to the bottom of this motherhood inclination that I have and understand more about what that means for me in this life. And I'd like to finish writing a book. Any book. Really. Someone give me a topic and a deadline (and maybe an advance)!

There are things I'd like to leave behind in 32, like anger and animosity and jealousy. Tax season. Allergies. But I know now, as I have known a bit more each passing year, that these annoyances are part of life and that they will always be close behind me, waiting. My personality wouldn't exist without them. My life would be far worse if my nemesis were more ominous than tax & allergy season.

With 32 I leave the false, self-imposed deadline of my mother's journey to motherhood. It was the bar I didn't reach, and now I'm somewhat relieved that it has passed. I imagine this is how children of olympians feel when they themselves make it all the way to the race and then finish umpteenth, a distant and embarrassing shadow of their parent's accomplishments. I sense that they go home with a tearful heart and eventually wake up saying, "Well, at least I tried."

And then, they find their own path.

Tomorrow is the first day of mine.

When I was 13 I received a book about birthdays. Mine is titled, "The Day of Heroic Inevitability" because it is purportedly the same date that Martin Luther King Jr. and Joan of Arc crossed that ethereal plane. This is serious s#it, people, to share your birthday with saints, particularly revolutionary saints who were executed. (While I'm not sure he's technically considered a saint in the Papal sense, I imagine that if we were giving sainthood to African American leaders of peaceful movements, that MLKJ would be first in line). And while no one actually knows when St. Joan was actually born, it doesn't matter as much as that dangerous seed planted 20 years ago in my naive mind.

"What will you do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

I suppose if I had to answer Ms. Oliver, I would say: I will show up, eyes open, and walk steadily into uncharted territory.

I will make my own way.

Be my own hero. Write my own story.

Thirty-three? Bring it on.