Trying to sort through the myriad of thoughts and emotions today, my birthday, what I land on is: It’s complicated. Very little about my life as I turn 56 is as I imagined it might be, as the world I grew up in told me it would likely be, or even as I determined it would never be.
I realized suddenly today, that my physical reality has come to mirror my existential understanding of myself as someone on the outside, who stands at the margins in a world that looks to the middle. Now I literally live on a border, a strange somewhat arbitrary boundary delineated by a ditch. Here I have spent the past 16 months seeking out the often unnoticed beauty of this place. And seeking connection while feeling immersed in solitude ebbing and flowing with isolation. In other words, I revelled in the aloneness until I didn’t.
Ironically as I find myself both single and my child grown I am now responsible for someone else in a way that has not been true for years, maybe ever. My child was 20 when I became a lone parent and my spouse was always the homebody. Parenting was shared but much of daily moment to moment was not mine. And while caregiving is not parenting, the moment to moment responsibility is much the same.
Looking at this feather graced by the setting sun, I am struck by the truth that a feather, while a thing unto itself, exists to be part of a bird. It is the feathers that allow a bird to fly. And without the bird, the feather cannot experience flight. This is the image I have chosen for myself to mark this birthday moment. I am a feather, an amazing work of Divine engineering and artistry. My gifts are a necessary part that creates the lift for something greater than me that in turn picks me up. Together we soar.
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