This morning, in honor of my 43rd birthday, I texted my parents to tell them how much I love them. My day began with thunderous storms bashing the house, a swirl of darkness at 7 a.m. My darling and I ventured out in the throwing rain to a luxury breakfast together.
It was quiet. White tablecloth. Hot coffee. A lovely necklace with an antique button as a gift he pulled from his pocket. Looking across the table at the man I love, knowing how lucky I am to have so much love in my life.
Which is self-evident these days on a birthday because of the outpouring of greetings and affection on Facebook. It would have been enough to receive the cards in the mail from my aunt in Florida and our former nanny in New York and the kids singing me happy birthday in unison.
I took myself to a local spa for a massage and pedicure – decadence to honor the miracle of my life. To show more gratitude than usual for all the gifts in every moment. And I cracked a book recently bought at a used book store in Maine to read the most exquisite prose:
I leave a window open on April nights and put my pillow close to that cold slice of air because I want to hear spring come back to this small clearing. Sometimes it snows and I hear that soft muffled falling, or it sleets and I hear instead the sharp tick of ice against the glass. But mostly the sounds are new.
One night a flock of Canada gees flew north under the half-moon. I woke to their bugling from the south and listened as the birds crossed over the roof, close enough to catch the sound of their wings like a bow drawn back and forth across the bass strings of a cello.
(Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town by Susan Hand Shetterly)
As I read, I remembered what it was like on my Vermont grad school campus, poring over words with poetic friends late into the night, debating form and function and nuance and tone. This weekend, I’ll give a talk about making a living vs. building a life, and it’s taking me back to the core of who I am – who we all are – and how we can tap into our gifts to make a difference in the world.
The years pass one after the next, and we are forever striving to figure it all out. Why are we here? What is our unique purpose? Why me? Good or bad? Happy or sad?
It is all good at the core, of course, and it’s for us to find the path to happy. No conflict. The good in all. The silver lining. There always is one.
Like sitting at my computer at this moment and hearing a favorite song – there are so many! – and knowing it fuels my creativity.
There is always another page to turn, another purpose to fulfill. A hug to give, a relationship to cherish, a street to walk as if for the first time and see the pink-edged leaves on the tree as you walk under it.
The thunderstorm wakeup call was a cleansing of sorts. Wash away the dirt that’s piled up, wash away the murky stench, the stagnant air. Our pond in the yard is overfull, finally, the water swirling.
Everything is so green! Full of life! Vibrant and alive and awake.
Even the thunderstorm is a sheer miracle. Without it, everyone, everything, would be stuck in limbo, wishing for a different space, a different air to breathe. The thunder struck loud, shaking the house. The lightning was magnificently sharp. The air smelled absolutely perfect with rain.
A miracle. Nothing short of it.