You have my heart. I’m not sure you wanted it, but it sits on your desk (in the corner) where sometimes it catches your eye and you remember (me) for a while. It beats (for you) but mostly you don’t notice. So easy to take (for granted) sitting there on the shelf, gathering dust over the years. I can’t seem to ask for it back, as much as its absence pains me, because one day (I hope) you’ll realize what a treasure it is, how rare and precious a gift it is that you have, (there) on your shelf, that you mostly can’t help but ignore.
“238. I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.
239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. ‘Love is not consolation,’ she wrote. ‘It is light.’
240. All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”
― Maggie Nelson, Bluets
It is difficult, but I am trying to be a student of light. I find I get caught up in longings, in the ways I wish things could be different. It is a challenge to be content in the present moment, but I am working at it — every day.
One of the dearest people in my life has a birthday today (happy birthday to you!), which has me musing about birthdays, and the nature of growing. Growing older. Growing wiser. Growing happier. Growing up? Do we ever really grow up? These days, at least, I feel like I am stretching and growing into the woman I want to be. It is not easy, though, I must admit. Growth and change are never easy or comfortable, but I try to remember that those are the things can move us forward to new places, to new realizations, and even to new joys. Shedding the self-doubts, embracing the imperfections, trying to make a difference in the face of injustice — these are the difficult, but worthy, parts of the journey.
New Year’s Day comes flooded with resolutions, good intentions, and reflections on the old year, but I think birthdays can be much more personal waypoints for introspection and new intentions. There is no external pressure to make a NEW YOU and improve ALL THE THINGS the way there is at New Year’s — just you and your own personal new chapter, a new year of you, and perhaps some loved ones to celebrate with as you turn that page.
I won’t pretend that I am there yet, wherever “there” might be. I’ll keep trying to learn and grow and be as me as I can muster, discomfort and all. But in the meantime, I can surround myself with people I trust, bake an amazing birthday cake, and celebrate another year in the life of someone special.
One of the most decadently delightful cakes I have made is this peanut butter chocolate stunner from Smitten Kitchen. Make it for someone you care about (even yourself!), and enjoy wholeheartedly. Relish that birthday, and the person you are becoming.