books and birthdays

I have not written here in way too long for good reason…I am finishing this book and wow, who knew?  But it is so incredibly gratifying.  I can honestly say I am learning and growing beyond my greatest expectations — I truly am changing, growing, healing just from working with these remarkable people’s stories…so though it is outrageously intense right now, just trying to get it all in and done, I am loving the work…

Anyway, so that’s the reason for my silence here but when I get it all wrapped up and turned in by the end of June, I plan to really be good probably about giving little hints about the book and NEWS about it!  We’re launching January 4 and the way time has been flying, that will be here before we know it.

So, today is a friend’s bday and she was a bit freaked by it…she’s in her 30’s and that just started happening to her…I sent her a piece that I wrote last year as a writing exercise for a class I was taking and we realized that I wrote it on her birthday actually.  funny.  So in honor of her and  bdays – and especially this month of the Gemini since I am in that group and my bday is once again fast approaching, I have pasted the little piece below.

Happy Bday Geminis and Happy Summer to one and all!!  May it be the sexiest, most peaceful, magical, fun-filled summer yet!  (and p.s. also funny – the book and the monk i mention at the end, when I went in to meet with Harmony Books about working with them on my book, I caught my breath when the first book I saw in the glass case at their offices was this one with his smiling face looking out at me…very good sign, I thought. )

May 25, 2009

I sit down at my desk and stare at my screen.  The desk lamp to my right and the standing lamp in the far corner, along with the flickering candle, create the perfect light combo to surround and envelop me for a night of writing in my white-themed office.  My periphery vision takes in the books filling the white bookshelf against the eastern wall and the wistful thought, “One day I’ll have a library,” shoots across my mind like a blip of a shooting star.  Water bottles, an empty mug, my cell and the landline handpiece, scribbles on scattered papers, printed emails, lists, cds, a harddrive, a thumbdrive, my notebooks, a lighter, business cards, tapes from my edit session, a coaster, post-its, stray bills, the flickering purple lovespell candle, ipod wires, pens, pens and more pens, a book that is an early birthday present, and the just-discovered song that inspires me right now playing over and over through my speakers – all accompany me on my huge white metal desk, seeming as though they have been awaiting me.  I can feel and smell my freshly washed and straightened hair – I love the new shampoo I got – and it’s weird, but I can feel my smooth just-shaven legs hitting the softness of my favorite black sweats.  I am clean, refreshed and ready for bear, whatever that means – I’ve never understood that seashell.  I take a deep breath, and we all wait to see what I will do…I don’t know what I will do in this very moment…I have no idea.  But suddenly I hit the space bar – and the screen lights up with a blank document, cursor pulsing…I poise my fingers over the keys… and I let them write…

Yeah, my birthday is coming up…you know, I never thought the day would actually get here when I didn’t want birthdays to come…I still remember when I couldn’t wait to get older and would look forward to my birthday every year…I think I’m going to pick an age and stay that one the rest of my years until I decide to be another…I pick 32.  That’s a good one.  Not too young, not too old, just right.  If only I would have known that then.  If only I would have known how great it was to be 6 actually – or 7 or 9 or 13 for that matter … if only I would have known…but growing up, I would always hit a birthday and then I would almost immediately want to be older…I wanted to be 14 to get to high school… and then I couldn’t wait to be 15 to start dating, and then 16, of course, to drive.  And then it was 18 to go to college, and then 19 to get into bars, and then they changed the legal drinking age to 21 before I got there, so then, yes, 21 was the golden age to be!  Then at 22, I would be out of school and my life officially as an adult would begin and then I kept looking forward to the next few years after that to finally bring what I was supposed to be doing with my life… But then when I hit 25, somehow, I became too old for everything I was doing…And I was still so very young.  So very young.  And then when I was 28, I was still so young, but I thought I was running out of time so I jumped, and I did it, and my deepest self knew it wasn’t right.  And then I stayed and stayed and stayed thinking, “I’m so old, I have to stay in this, I’m too old to make anything else work,” and I was so very young…and then when I finally left, yes, I was older but I thought I was ancient, used up, done.  And I was really still quite young.  And I’m still young.  I’m still young today.  I realize – I’ve never been okay with my age.  Not one single solitary year.  I was always too young or too old, too behind or too ahead.  My god, my heart breaks for that girl who has lived her life this way.  Why?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  Why didn’t they tell me in childhood, how great it was to be a child and to enjoy being carefree and open and pure?  And why didn’t they tell me when I was a teenager, to slow down and notice the changes and the shifts, and allow myself the thrill of blooming?  And then, when I was in my 20’s, why didn’t anyone tell me how young I really was, and how great it is to be an adult, yet still so young with so much to look forward to and nothing to be afraid of, and that I didn’t have to know and experience everything by a certain age and that I should be incredibly thrilled to be that age in that moment, that very day that I was living that age, each and every day…Maybe they did tell me but I didn’t listen…I didn’t pay attention…I didn’t understand.  I have carried this pattern with me into my 30’s – every year causing more anxiety, more confusion, more sadness of the loss of youth and the discomfort of growing older and into new realms of being.  I find myself not recognizing who I am sometimes – not externally but internally – the old me seems to be disappearing and it scares me.  It really scares me……. You know what?  Enough.  That shouldn’t scare me, it should excite me.  It’s called growing up.  It’s called stepping into my womanhood.  It is called wisdom.  And wisdom comes with all these glorious years I’ve resisted.  It comes with living those years.  It comes with age.

I’m going to make a birthday commitment…I am going to be okay with the exact age I am, today, each day, every day that I am this and that age, and know that I am that young and this old and it’s the perfect age to be and I am going to enjoy it and embrace it and remember it and be grateful that I get to be at that age at all.  This next year is going to be a different story for me, I feel it, I know it, and wow, I might even be getting a little excited about it…

As this occurs to me, suddenly I’m realizing that the book on my desk that is an early birthday present is by a Buddhist monk – his precious warm face smiles at me from the cover.  I don’t know that much about it but I do know a major tenet in Buddhism is about living in the present – this strikes me as funny – a present about being present for a woman who just realized she’s never been present … my friend obviously knows me only too well…. I flip through the book a bit, but I have this bad habit of reading the last pages of books.  And since breaking this habit is not part of my birthday commitment, I go ahead and turn to the book’s last page.  It is only four lines.  I have no idea who this monk is, but I think I just fell a little bit in love with him…

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

May all sentient beings have joy and the causes of joy.

May all sentient beings remain in great equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.

(The Joy of Living, p. 252)


Life is beautiful and it’s hard.  Yes.

You could stand on the side of the road with a bag on your head for years and destiny will find you…

Your destiny will find you…

It will find you…

don’t worry…

all  is well…

Yes.

About Elise Ballard

Elise Ballard is the author of Epiphany! a book of inspirational stories, aha moments and exclusive interviews from Random House Publishing
Posted in Insights. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention books and birthdays | Epiphany This and Thats -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *