Friday, March 30, 2007

The Only Way to Live a Long Life

Is to keep having birthdays.

toothpaste for dinner
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Today is my 35th birthday.
I like birthdays, no matter how big the number is.
In fact, these days I like birthdays precisely because of how big the number is!

So what have I gleaned from 35 years on the planet that is worthy of sharing?

Well, clearly I have NOT learned that "no one cares about your birthday-induced 'wisdom'." But let's chalk that up to youth and inexperience and move ahead with the original post, shall we? Supah.

1. When your life seems to have gone under a bus at 50 miles an hour, you figure out what is really important to you. Not because you are a super, good, insightful person, but because the human condition requires it. I can't tell you the last time I worried--really worried--about my weight, my cholesterol or my calf definition. I shudder to think of the number of years I obsessed/flipped out/freaked out/otherwise wasted time worrying about being fat, substituting my fear of being fat for other, larger feelings, and in general putting so much effort into my appearance to the detriment of my appearance. I credit Bambina and bone marrow for ridding me of this seemingly-societally important concern, on the theory that you cannot have body issues and successfully, honestly raise a confident child, and you cannot worry about consuming fewer than 1500 calories a day when you've got *-* this much bone marrow, *-* this much energy, and *-----------------* this much toddler on a daily basis. The human brain, I imagine, can only process so much worry or fear at one time. It's quite amazing how previous large "fears" are shunted aside when real ones actually arrive. (It also makes you wonder if it's human nature to invent worries and fears even where none need exist).

2. Always ask yourself, no matter how bad it gets, "What is good about this?" It sounds like the most ridiculous and intellectually dishonest thing to do, but it makes life much easier. The times in my life when I've been most hurt, most alone, most lost were the times I focused on the "How and Why" instead of the "What is good." When a guy cheated on me, I'd torture myself with "How could he do this to me? Why would he do this? I don't understand." When my blood counts started dropping and it became clear that life would not go according to my previously-strategized Five Year Plan, I spent a lot of time asking, "Why me? How can this be happening to ME?" When a boss would constantly downgrade me, tell me I wasn't qualified for something I knew I could do, make me doubt my (mad) skills, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the how and the why of their blindness to my talent.

These days I make myself find one single thing that is good (which doesn't mean "happy") about a situation before I let myself wonder why or how. Sometimes it's hard. When my Dad died, the only thing (duh) I could say was that he was no longer sick and suffering. But that alone offered some comfort. With my health, it's also hard to find good things. Except for my discovery that friends are actually there to be counted upon when you need them and not just for social fun. That sometimes crappy things happening to you do indeed make you a gentler person to others. That you can meet the coolest and most interesting people in a cancer center infusion room. That sometimes your best work as a mother comes on days when you are acutely aware of the singular blessing of your child on the earth and in your life. And sometimes your best work as a mother comes on days when you are just barely getting by physically or emotionally; that sometimes digging deep to get through a day makes that day more valuable.

In any event, my point is that "how" and "why" questions generally have no real answers worth hearing. Because you're not looking for "because she was hotter than you" to find out why he cheated; you're looking for a bigger answer that you can't have. You're not looking for "my Dad died because his lungs blah blah blah...;" you're looking for a bigger answer that you can't have. You're not wondering why or how your bone marrow isn't working: "See, there are these things called stem cells...;" you're looking for a bigger answer that you can't have. So I've stopped asking the questions, and now I just ask myself no matter how bad it all may seem: "What is good about this?" And because I'm not a superhero, although I like to play one on a blog, some days I let myself have till the weekend to come up with an answer.

3. A writer should only be allowed two (2) pseudo-serious birthday remarks in one post or else risk looking like a self-important jackass who wouldn't know a HAPPY birthday if it blew candles out in her face. Therefore:

4. It is a tremendous honor to share my birthday with Superstar Chanteuse Quebecoise Miss Celine Dion. I don't ask the "comment ou pourquoi" of this honor; I simply enjoy the warm glow of bonheur it brings me.

5. M&M's make a great breakfast supplement.

6. You should try it sometime.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Happy Birthday! Keep on keepin' on.