“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”
– Lewis Carroll
It’s my birthday today. And I was reflecting on who I am now versus who I have been in previous years.
Last night as I drifted off to sleep I asked myself – So, who are you?
I didn’t really have an answer.
So, I asked myself – Who did you used to think you were?
I let my mind wander through my visual record of memory, as though walking through a long gallery with paintings hanging on the walls each depicting a year of my life, or a series of years which amalgamated together to represent a period in my life.
Memory is a strange museum. Why do certain things stand out? Why are others lost, while others kept?
I was a serious child. Not always, but mostly. My bursts of enthusiasm for life were usually bashed on the head by an adult. Adults find children childish, seem surprised that children are that way and definitely find it annoying unless they need to be entertained by a foolish little jester who can then be humiliated for a momentary laugh.
I did not lose my child’s sense of wonder and fascination with life. I hid it in a puzzle box and mailed it to my future self with a note carved into it saying – When you’re ready to enjoy this energy and set it free, you’ll know how to open this box and you’ll know what do do with what’s inside it.
In some ways I fit the typical stereotype of my Sun sign – Capricorn. I have aged backwards. Born old, growing younger with each passing year.
When I hit my forties, I had a moment of feeling very old, even though it really isn’t old at all. And some say that life begins at forty. In some ways it did for me. I suddenly shifted from being very concerned about how the rest of the world perceived me and how I lived and had lived my life, to not really giving a toss what anyone else thought, including Society. I realised that my life was my own and I could do whatever I wanted, within reason… and without reason.
In the past few years I’ve been braver, bolder, wilder, crazier, and more irresponsible than I have ever been. It’s been fun, thrilling and has completely changed how I perceive myself.
I love challenges. This is new. This suits me better than the person I was who cringed when a challenge presented itself.
I’m not fearless, but I feel as though I am. It’s an odd and most delicious sensation. When anxiety, fear, worry and trepidation arise… where I used to cower and make myself small hoping to become invisible, now I make myself large, very visible and shout – Boo! – at the monster before me.
This new attitude has allowed me to face many of the ghosts which have haunted me, the inner demons which have gnawed at my insides, the shadows which have absorbed my light, the phobias which have paralysed me, and the goblins which have whispered in my ear and made me indecisive, prone to making bad decisions because I was too afraid of making a mistake, so I made one anyway and it wasn’t the mistake I would have preferred to make. Now my mistakes are welcome experiments which enhance my experience of life.
I have learned to listen to my gut instincts and act on them or not act because they warn me not to. I have embraced the wisdom of my intuition, rather than drown it out with illogical logic of mental calculations, influenced by the noise of the people in the world always telling you what to do and what not to do, which never have sufficient accurate data but have too much trivial information which obscures everything… and the mind always has an excuse why it’s logic and calculations were wrong.
Hindsight is a pompous ass, who only knows how to inspire regret and self-criticism of the – I should have listened to my intuition kind but I didn’t.
And as always I am left to deal with the chaos when consequences unfold without any help from those parts of me who were more than eager to set the cogs of chaos in motion, but who run away when it actually hits.
Life is a funny old thing. I’m a funny old thing and I like myself this way… whoever I am.
But who am I?
I feel a quickening, have felt it for the past couple of years… as though I am being ushered over a threshold into… no idea but… I’ve learned to leap and only look when I land, rather than the other way around which turned my feet into lead and kept me stuck in the old and the past.
I do have concerns for the coming year. My biggest one is probably the silliest, but it’s one which has held me back many times in my life. The fear that I might become someone I really don’t like with an ego the size of a juggernaut that crushes anyone who falls in my path. But I’ve been people I don’t like due to fearing becoming someone I don’t like… so, there really isn’t anything else to do but just let what will be… just be and deal with it as it is when it is.
Full steam ahead and leap off the edge, grow my wings or a parachute or an umbrella on the way down… or just plummet and splat sunny-side up!
I’ve never liked celebrating my birthday and usually don’t tell people when it is because I’d rather it was just another day. Not because I’m worried about getting old (I love getting old and standing on my head) or people knowing my age (45). It’s just a number. But because I never really felt welcome on Earth. Things have changed.
Birthdays changed for me when I worked at a place where people were encouraged to celebrate their birthday by bringing a huge cake into the office and making it a fun day for everyone else, thus making it fun for the birthday person. It took a while for the wisdom of that to sink into my thick skull…
Happy birthday everyone! Thank you for being a part of my life, you inspire and touch me in a way you’ll never know because such things are hard to truly express!
Cyber champagne cake for everyone and best wishes to you all for the coming year and many more years to come!