Fifty-Two wasn’t a bad year, although it had a pandemic in it. It has also had kittens, so there’s something good to add to the stew. Overall, it was a learning year. All the most joyful moments of this past half of a year have been in the context of knowing how fragile life is. Still, the terrible has not outweighed the abundant and joyful. There was a hummingbird a couple days ago, and there’s been so much poetry. The aforementioned kittens. Time with my family–lots of that! Time with my wider circles of beloveds–not as much or as huggy as I could wish for, but sweet and precious.
Fifty-Two is twice Twenty-Six, so I could say it was a double-marathon year, and this second half has been one long, hilly race, that’s for certain.
Today I enter Fifty-Three. I always have to say it: Because of the way we count birthdays, I am actually entering my Fifty-Fourth year. I get to wear the Fifty-Three, because we label our birthdays by how many we have accomplished, and in a pandemic year, there’s a bit of buzzy edge to that sense of accomplishment. In a pandemic year, reaching a birthday is perhaps something of an accomplishment.
So, at Fifty-Three, I am entering my prime, divisible only by myself and One.
If I reduce my birthday, according to the standard numerological reduction–by adding the month (8) to the day (10) to the year (2020)–this is a Thirteen year for me, a Death year, which sounds terrifying unless you consider the deep implications that Death represents not only the ending, but the preparation for a new beginning. It’s about Big Transformation. Perhaps the losses and grievings of this pandemic time can help me to remove old skins that hold me back from more transformative growth.
Thirteen is also a number the represents the deep female knowledge and intuitive processes that have been driven underground through the centuries, through witch hunts and religious persecutions and patriarchal oppressions. Perhaps this is a year that I can sink into trusting my deep inner knowledge, and learn to more fully trust my instincts, to more fully take up the Work.
Whatever meaning we attach to numbers, birthdays offer the invitation to introspection, to taking stock of what has been, and envisioning what might be. This has been a difficult and beautiful year, full of pain, full of growth, with lots of small but deep joys. I’m grateful to have walked it with so many beautiful hearts.
(Yesterday, I felt like I wanted to do something sort of big in order to mark the end of Fifty-Two. I wanted to accomplish something in the margins of another year. So I pushed myself to ride further than I ever have, and went the whole distance from Columbia to the Riverfront Park Pavilion seven miles away, and then back to Columbia, fourteen miles total. I know I attempted a long bike ride once when I was a teenager, with lots of stops to rest, and lots of complaining. I don’t think I have ever before ridden fourteen miles without stopping. That might not seem significant to most people, but for someone with my sedentary nature, it was a milestone. I am proud of myself.)
Hieronymus Praetorius (composer)
Hilda Doolittle (the poet H.D.)
Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull!)
Mark Doty (poet and writer)
Riddick Bowe (boxer, born in 1967)
and me (also 1967)
Seems like a good cohort. Nobody too far out there, but all steady in their work.
Birthday Gratitude List:
1. A year with kittens in it.
2. A year with you and you and you in it.
3. A year that has included learning to push myself beyond my basic comfort zone, in many areas.
4. So much to reflect on and process, in order to grow.
5. So much to envision and plan, and hope for.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!
“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” —Coco Chanel
“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin
“Soul of my soul … be water in this now-river.” —attr. to Rumi
“You are the Soul of the Soul of the Universe, and your name is Love.” —attr. to Rumi
“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection. No living creature, not even human, has achieved, in the centre of one’s sphere, what the bee has achieved on her own: and if intelligence from another world were to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation, I would offer the humble comb of honey.” —Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924
“It’s not only those who have succumbed to hate who have to change. We need to learn to love bigger, to bring them back.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
“If it is bread that you seek, you will have bread. If it is the soul you seek, you will find the soul. If you understand this secret, you know you are that which you seek.” —atrr. to Rumi
“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.
“While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.
“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.
“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” —Toko-pa Turner