Happy, happy birthday baby...
Sunday evening. Thirty six years. It doesn't look terribly scary when you write it out that way, although it is a lot longer than, for instance, ten years. I don't know why, but this year's natal observance has really got me down.
Don't get me wrong, I got the most fabulous present in the world -- spending a lazy Sunday in October, in San Diego, with my mother. Most of you out there are probably asking yourself, "does she have low gift expectations, or what?", but what you don't know is that I very nearly lost my mother in 2002 to colon cancer, and I've come to appreciate that, crazy though she is, my time with my mother on Earth will be finite, and I try never to take a single second together for granted. Yes, she infuriates me at times and embarasses me at others, but she is, still, the only immediate family member that is still part of my life. We spent a great hour or so just talking about her childhood memories -- spending time with her Granny Taylor and Nana Morgan, sitting on her Grandpa Morgan's knee as he asked her if she'd brought any sand with her (they lived at the beach at the time), and putting shillings in the gas meter before she could take a warm bath on Sundays (yes, really!). Those are the things that no one else still alive remembers and things that, if I'm ever blessed with children of my own, I will try my best to pass along intact. Of course, it just isn't the same without my mom doing the narration, so I'll just have to hope that she gets the opportunity to share it all herself.
So, what have I learned in 36 years?
* Don't take life so seriously. I know that I don't follow this advice often enough, but that doesn't make it any the less true.
* Don't take your family or friends for granted. It's just so easy to be drawn into your own struggles and forget about the blessings that you have, in the form of those that love and support you. I don't always succeed at this, but it's something I'm working on every day.
* Don't let your view of yourself be colored by what the world thinks of you. Yes, this is something that I will, no doubt, still be working on when I'm 95, wrinkled, and stooped over.
* Do find something that you love more than yourself. It can be people, places, an activity, or whatever takes you outside of yourself and focuses you on the bigger picture. Yes, this, too, I'm still working on.
* When a person of the opposite sex tells you that they're not worthy of you, believe them. Seriously.
* You can be alone, without a significant other and sometimes without friends, and still be OK. I know because I've done it.
* Sometimes, without warning, your "job" becomes your career. If you'd told me in college that I would be a Software Development Project Manager for a large company, I'd have laughed in your face.
In the end, what sticks with me is the passionate desire to spend as much time as possible with the people, and in the places, that I love. Life is fleeting but love is infinite. Everything else is just details.