Perspective is not always most evident when you are in the middle of a thing. It is when you step outside of yourself for a moment, that you can suddenly see very clearly.
Today is my birthday. I am 36 now, that means I have been around the sun 36 times, and am beginning my 37th rotation. It's hard to imagine what another rotation will bring, but easy to look back on what the past year was. It's even harder to look back over all the years and discern how I got here.
I used to be a kid who loved my birthday. Like most kids, I celebrated, had a party, enjoyed a delicious cake cooked by my devoted mother, had time with my friends. It was good and simple. Even on the birthday days that did not go over so well as a child, the hope was so strong and filled me up with such light at what the next birthday would bring.
When my birthday rolls around now, I worry. Not because I am another year older, but because I am not sure it will be a good day. Just because it is my special day does not mean the planets will align to make everything go smoothly. Being a parent and stepparent is cause enough to pause and rethink what special days mean. Living a family life is another reason that you simply can't always get what you want, birthday or no.
Last year my birthday was calm, quiet, peaceful. I walked in the fall woods with my dog, had a dinner out with and a few presents from my family, and despite the unfortunate timing of Talya being rather sick in bed, all was well. This year is ever so different. Cedar is home sick from school, and I am trying to get him healthy again, I have my own cold I am fighting off, and I am heading to Binghamton to get a root canal in a few hours, (after suffering tooth pain for days, being put off by the dental office for more days, with the new knowledge that the insurance might not cover it anyway). It's life. It's the things we have to deal with. And sometimes you have to deal with them on your birthday.
But as a child you don't. At least I didn't. I got to live in a sunny place where birthdays were protected and safe. I appreciate that my parents created that world for me. I just feel a little sad now that it was an illusion.
I've known this for a few years. It's not a new realization. Adults have to deal with stuff, you simply can't put the responsibility down. What I do see this year is that even in all that dealing with life that must go on, you can find small moments of grace to shatter the disillusionment.
I learned that today has been created the National Day on Writing by the National Council of Teachers of English, and is recognized by the Senate as such. I could not ask for a more lovely birthday present. A celebration of the very thing that so drives me.
I write because I have to. I write so I can understand my life, the lives around me, the world. I write because if on my 36th birthday all I had was a sick kid, household chores, and a root canal the last drop of childhood illusion of my special day would be gone and I would go crazy.
The whole picture might not be endless pink frosting and piles of presents, but I know there are some rainbow sprinkles mixed in.
Happy National Day on Writing!