I've always enjoyed my birthdays--I know some people don't. Maybe it's partially because I've always wanted to get older. This was the first birthday I've felt I was indeed getting older, and I naturally felt some alarm. Still, I've always been convinced the best years were ahead. Now they're just closer. All in all it's been a good year since my last birthday. It has been a very hard year, and it has been wonderful and miraculous. Jane was born and...I can't really remember anything else that happened. Except, I quit my job at the end of my maternity leave, and now Jane is my "job."
Knowing that I wasn't working anymore, that I was free from a job that had become an obsession, a compulsion that drained my energy and spirits, and would remain free for some time; knowing that I would be able to spend the first precious months of my child's life caring for her; knowing that I had the opportunity to choose my next step in life rather than hurriedly fumble for something adequate--somehow my mind and my heart and my body just opened up. I'm not quite sure if I can explain it. But all this creative energy, all this joie de vivre came bubbling up. At the risk of sounding corny, Jane's birth was a rebirth for me. So I've spent most of this last year contemplating what to do with this energy, and how to identify and pursue my vocation. I've talked a lot about it, and journaled about it, until I've come to a point where I feel confident moving forward, and have some idea where I'm going. Don't ask me where--now that I'm taking the leap I can't speak about it.
For my birthday, the day itself, I wanted to go to Crane Beach, and my wish was granted. I went with Matt, Jane, and my mom-in-law. Despite the weatherman's attempt to ruin my birthday, it was a gorgeous day. As soon as we got there I knew I had to take a walk. Alone. Being alone is not something I do much. So I struck out with the camera and took the sort of pictures you take at the beach--the kind that can't capture the majesty, the spaciousness, and the peacefulness of your experience there--a place where some dumb rock on a vast plane of really tiny rock pieces and the rhythm of the ocean coming toward you from the straight horizon line speaks to you, cosmically. I walked all the way out on a long thin spit, but couldn't seem to capture it.
[If you want to see the special feeling of such a place captured, watch Shiva Rea's Yoga Shakti.]
I found this, which was later identified by Matt as a skate. And I came across some sand collars.
Once, Matt and I were walking on the beach and he started to step on one, and I said "Wait! Don't step on it. There are eggs in there." He asked me what I was talking about, and I reached back to some elementary school field trip and said that they were how a certain fish laid its eggs or something. I couldn't quite remember, but they weren't to be touched. He said it sounded unlikely. And I agreed.
Why would a fish (snail) lay its eggs in a three dimensional sand structure? Unlikely.
But then, it's pretty unlikely that a human being could grow another human being from an egg in side her abdomen, and that the baby would come out...well, you know. And that's really all of creation, isn't it? Beautiful. Difficult. Awesome. Unlikely. And yet--that's what we do. It happens. It works.
I thought about this on my walk, with the ocean approaching ahead, on my left, on my right, and children learning to swim, and skate passing on, and snails unborn. And I felt electrified, empowered, ready to face my journey. Which, after all takes some bravery, since at its root life is a solitary journey. But there are people who love us, and we move forward more or less together, and help each other. And when I turned back there was my husband approaching, whose face I couldn't distinguish, but whose gait is unmistakable.
And it was lovely to walk with him. I asked about the skate. And we made plans for some other sea life...At Woodman's, where the beer is ice cold, the onion rings are crisp, and sea life is not sacrificed in vain. Jane flirted with the people in the next booth, and turned her face to the breeze, which is one of her all-time favorite activities.
It was a very, very happy birthday.
And P.S., you should watch I Know Where I'm Going!