Over the years, the extent to which I celebrated my birthdays reflected the extent to which I had discovered self-love.
And when I say celebrate, I don’t necessarily mean having a huge birthday bash with giant mylar balloons shaped like the letters of my name, although I’ve had extravagant parties. By celebrate, I mean the emotional quality of self-recognition, of acknowledging that a cycle in my life has come to a close, that something has shifted (is shifting) and that it deserves a day of its own. I’ve had fulfilling birthday celebrations alone and surrounded by peers. On the other hand, before I discovered the significance of a cycle, I’ve had unfulfilling, unreflective birthdays, whether alone or with my peers.
That being said, I’ve had birthdays at home and I’ve had birthdays while traveling, and depending on my internal state, they have been both incredible and boring. But that additional “wild card” factor when I’m away from home has created some truly unforgettable moments. On my 25th birthday on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, I was with a group of couchsurfers that I had not known for more than a week. We danced around a fire and with what meager ingredients were available in the kitchen, they surprised me with a cake (it was mostly oatmeal). As everyone else drifted off to sleep that night, I lay awake, abuzz with excitement at how these near-strangers/new friends had shown me such kindness on an important day.
Gigi Young of www.moonbirdblog.com speaks of how specific days or periods of time, such as solstices or beginnings of a new season, serve as magnifiers of the emotional quality of our lives as we move through them*. That spring in Costa Rica was a perfect example of how my birthday represented a year-long period in my life of playfulness, spontaneity, and social butterfly-like interactions with people.
This most recent birthday, in 2018 (my … 27th? Wow), I was also traveling, but there was a much different mood, or tone, to the day. It could have been that I scheduled a flight for that day (sometimes I pick significant days to travel, like, Valentine’s Day, or my birthday. I suppose it could be symbolic, but it also helps me decide when I want to leave). But it probably had more to do with my reasons for traveling–to volunteer. To provide art. To share my gift. I was in Indonesia, leaving Bali to spend three weeks at a hostel in Yogyakarta and to work on a mural. On my 27th birthday, I spent most of the day surrounded by people who did not know that it was, in fact, my birthday. It may not have been a public affair, but my soul was in a state of celebration. I had been given so much to be able to arrive at that point.
I spent all day honoring my story, cherishing it. Recently, I have realized that there is no other option but to pay my gifts forward.
It has been 2 months into my 27th year and I am working and brainstorming every day to ensure that I stay aligned with my purpose.
If my 27th birthday was an accurate reflection of what this period in my life holds in store for me, I’d say I’m on the right track.
*In her video titled “Archetypes and Solstice” on Youtube.