Today I turn one year older, and although not too far off from my journey to joyful living through learning compassion and generosity, Today, I want to add a little gratitude.
Leading up this day, I had the usual questions about what I wanted and how I was planning to celebrate. The first question was easy. In attempt to eliminate the distractions of physical pleasures, I chose to kindly refuse presents this year in an effort to remind them that birthdays are not about presents but what we were all born to want and need: joy and relationship. The second question was more complicated than it should have been. Growing up, my family didn’t prioritize birthday celebrations and tried to keep them like any ordinary day with some intimate family moments. As I got older and became the so-called adult I thought I was, I wanted to make up for lost time by throwing a 21st birthday party. The party didn’t really go as planned. In fact, the party didn’t even begin. It’s already anyone’s nightmare to have a party for one, but imagine when that said party was to celebrate you. Needless to say, I haven’t planned a birthday celebration since. But I never really thought about why everyone decided not to come until recently. I was so fixated on pitying myself, feeling betrayed that everyone hurt me, and holding it against them. I realize now that it was still a pivotal moment of opportunity for me. It forced me to re-evaluate the value of my relationships and it forced me to realize the importance of connection. I didn’t know it then, but that 21st birthday party — or lack thereof — caused me to not only seek more valuable relationships, but be valuable to those relationships and I wanted to be a more present sister, daughter, and friend. All these years, I wasn’t losing out on something. My family was just trying to reinforce the idea that even on special days, the ordinary moments and consistent relationships are what matters most.
It’s been ten years and the fear from that night still haunted me up until last week. This very fear has been holding me back from finding the joy and compassion I seek for my relationships. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way from 2008, but I’m certainly not where I hoped to be simply because of fears like this one. Through the latest chapter of The Book of Joy, I am finally able to identify my fears, realize the selfishness behind them, and transform them into concern for others. So when I was asked how I’m planning to celebrate my birthday today, I answered with a variation of “I will just be with friends — like yourself — sharing laughs and a drink nearby. I hope you’ll come. It’s got your favorite _____ and I think you’d like it.” There were no worry about whether the party would actually happen or if people would show up because it didn’t matter. The only goal was to create an opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves, not to celebrate me.
And to my surprise, I came into work this morning showered with so much love, endless well-wishes, and an unbelievable amount of enthusiasm. Dear friends and family took the time to leave a token of their excitement in their own ways and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m thankful for them fueling the momentum in thwarting my fear and making me feel that despite it, I am being valuable to the relationship. To them. I am grateful that after ten years of this mental-struggle, I’ve found the relationships that I have, chosen to nurture and grow them, and kept the importance of their connections at hand. Without them, I likely would not have uncovered my need to re-evaluate the quality and purpose of my life. Without them, I would’ve never been to comprehend the immeasurable effects of showing love and generosity.
Without them, I would not be celebrating today with 100% of the party attending.
DAY 12. Love, Ro