Sunday, September 25, 2016

Birthdays and Anniversaries...

Today was my birthday!  We celebrated by having a "Craftapalooza" at the shop.  We ate cake (a delicious cheesecake that my mother-in-law made), drank strawberry wine, and made things.  When I'm gone (hopefully many years from now), I hope that they remember me as someone who inspired people to make things – to embrace their creativity and add beauty to the world.  And that's the way that I wanted to celebrate my birthday... enjoying each other's company and making things.

While today is a birthday celebration, it's also an anniversary.  You see, six years ago I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had a bump on my side that I thought was an angry pimple or a spider bite that rapidly grew until it was the size of a half dollar.  It turns out that it was skin cancer and I had to have it and a margin of half a square foot of skin removed.  I have been fortunate and blessed not to have a reoccurrence and according to many experts, after the five year mark... I'm cured.  I have been cured for a year.

With my birthday comes a reminder that life is precious.  It is a gift that we are given and we can do great things with that gift.  The greatest thing we can do is to live rightly.  I don't necessarily mean that we have to do good deeds and the like (which of course is a wonderful way to live), but that each person has a particular path.  I believe that the path shifts and adjusts, depending on circumstances and the reactions to the actions of our lives, kind of like GPS directions that recalculate with weather and traffic advisories.  The path connects our births to our deaths.  But just because there's a path doesn't mean people always follow it.  Sometimes they struggle against the journey and fill their lives with frustration.

I remember going hiking once and instead of following the circuitous path back to the car, I decided to take a shortcut.  I remembered a stream near the parking lot and I figured that if I walked along the stream, I could cut an hour off my walk and save my feet from blisters.  In my gut, I knew that I should just follow the path.  The thing about my shortcut was that yes, it was shorter and it worked out theoretically, but as I drew closer to the parking lot, the bank of the stream became more rugged and steep, until eventually it turned into an impassible waterfall with sheer rock walls on either side, where I could either jump into questionable water of unknown depth or turn back.  Not wanting to become another statistic about hikers who leave the trail, I turned back, climbed back up on the path, slipped, slid down a rock face, and twisted my ankle.  I had to walk back in pain and in the dark.  In my heart of hearts, I knew that I shouldn't have left the path, but I wanted to get back faster and I thought I knew best.

We can fight the path, or we can go with it.  It may take longer and it might have its own perils, but it is the way that has been created by all the shifting dynamics.   When one lives in sync with their path, it creates its own reaction... a reaction of alignment.  Oprah has a great quote about luck being preparation meeting opportunity.  And, when one lives in alignment, they prepare themselves for all the very best opportunities.  This is what I meant by "living rightly".

It's not always easy to know if one is on their path or not.  It's not always clear.  But for me, the confirmation comes in the form of moments of knowing.  They are beautiful moments of profound clarity, where everything is understood and understood in more than just an intellectual way, but understood in your bones and in your spirit.  Sometimes the moment comes all at once, like a bolt of lighting and sometimes it's a quiet realization, like waking up slowly.

As I stood over the candles on the cake, I felt one of those moments.  It was confusing at first.  I tried to rack my brain for a wish and then it hit me... "more of the same... more of the same".  While my life is no fairy tale and there are certainly things that could be improved, the good far outweighs the bad and it is a beautiful life filled with amazing people and lovely things and a deep connection to my calling and I couldn't imagine it any other way.


Ann Schroeder said...

I love this post. Yes. This.

thisgirl said...

Thank you, Andrew. Your words, today, have resonated within me. I'll revisit them periodically when I'm feeling unsure of my footsteps.