For me and for other people I’m sure, birthdays are an opportunity for reflection coupled with planning for upcoming milestones.
Around this time is when I’m most in tune with my spiritual and emotional self, and it’s when I get to decide on just how much growth I’ve managed in my past year. I try to look at the positive changes I’ve made, what has stayed constant in my life, and what I need to rid myself of. I look at what has made me happy and how I can implement more of that happiness in my upcoming year. I also look at what has caused me hurt and how I should avoid it following me into my next year
I’m beyond thankful for the life God has blessed me with, so my goal for this personal new year is to be even more grateful. This includes ridding myself of the idea that I don’t deserve goodness because, like every other person in existence ever, I also tend to be plagued with the bad. I’m making peace with their simultaneous coexistence. ‘Verily with hardship is ease’ within each hardship there is ease, and we can take pleasure in life’s big or small comforts even when we are constantly hurting. This also includes cherishing the people I have grown to love and also those who have grown to love me back. Accepting love means accepting God’s mercy, there’s no better place to be held than in someone’s heart.
I’ve been the happiest this year, but it also goes without saying that I’ve had some pretty devastating lows too. 22 made me more self-reliant and also pushed me closer to God in ways that I didn’t even know possible.
Most days I drive with the radio off, talking to a Force who I know is always beside me (sounds a bit like madness, but it is the most sane of my insanity). Even though God knows every moment of my life, I still enjoy carving out time to tell Him about what I’m thinking, what I’ve been up to and what I see for myself. He’s basically my friend now and not just Who decides on my heaven and hell. He listens for a while, sometimes He is silent for a little before He speaks, but other times, even before I finish my sentence, there is a stream in my heart flowing with thoughts and emotions, and most importantly, a cohesion to my many parts that I often forget can be whole.
It’s in these conversations that I decided that I wanted to leave the country for my birthday and within days, I found a flight ticket, hotel and a persistent Friend in my heart that just kept telling me to go.
I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to though, that I was wasting time and money and that I shouldn’t indulge in frivolities (as if uprooting ones life, even for a week was anything close to a frivolous activity). All I could think was ‘people will probably say you’re enjoying too much when you need to be doing this and that.’ There was a lot of going back and forth, but then it hit me, so what? What was so wrong about deciding to do the exact things that make me happy? It’s so easy to forget to live for yourself once in a while when so much of your life has been dedicated to the betterment of others. We forget that we cannot be the best to others if we are not the best to ourselves.
I deem myself considerably lucky to be unconditionally supported by so many people and relatively financially okay enough to afford the one thing that brings me some semblance of worldly peace, travels. And as a self-proclaimed ‘child of the universe’ the earth is mine to explore and to make peace with. There is a gift within each location waiting to be collected. Sometimes that gift may simply be finding yourself.
For me, traveling is a form of worship. There’s a thrill in seeking God within each alleyway and across every ocean. There is God in centuries of untarnished Roman architecture, there is God in the sun reflecting clear blue Grecian waters, there is God in the Senegalese stranger who stops everything she’s doing to help you find someone to change your money at the best rate, there is God in Budapest, there is God in Ghana, there is God wherever we look for Him.
So I pray to find more of myself, more of God, and more of God in myself this year. May I never lose site of my blessings in this life. Even when my insides are set ablaze, may I never forget the people who contribute to the coolness of my eyes. May I be in continuous remembrance of sunsets and warm waters and blooming springs and thigh high boots in the winter.
Here’s to more light, more love, and more laughter for each of us in every life.