Birthdays are a rather peculiar thing. As I sit here, with the occasion of my twenty-first birthday have just passed, I cannot help but ask myself: Why are birthdays such a big deal? Who the heck cares when I was born or how old I am? It’s just a day in the calendar, it’s comes and goes swiftly, and with or without much attention given to the day, it’s gone. I think that these days, birthdays are built up from a lot of hype; too much hot air and expectation, when the reality is less than so. Obviously, that was not the case for my birthday, for the celebrations of this milestone year have been endless (That’s what happens when you celebrate according to the solar calendar and the Jewish calendar), and are set to continue onwards for quite a while.
Even so, a birthday should be about much more than cake or the amount of presents you receive (I actually thought that at such an age, material items like cake and presents wouldn’t matter, but oh, how they do). A birthday is a celebration of your life. Of course, like any other special day of celebration, a birthday is meant to isolate the feelings of thanks and joy that you feel about having completed another year, and expand them. One should not take a moment only on the day of their birth to nod their head in thanks to the fact that they lived another healthy, successful year, the same way that Mother’s Day should not cancel out the respect and care that you treat your mother with only a daily basis, however it is a day when such things should be eliminated.
According to Judaism, one’s birthday is a very significant day. On one’s birthday, their Mazal, or good fortune, is dominant. Like the beginning of a new year or the celebration of a holiday, a birthday is a day of personal significance. It’s yet another chance to start over (I find myself with a numerous chances to start over lately. Someone up there must be on my side). What is more significant in personal matters than the day that one began their journey in the world?
Similar to the beginning of a new year, a birthday is a time to reflect. It is a time to meditate and focus on the year that has past, to view it’s grand moments as well as it’s lesser equals, and evaluate them. Were you successful in the endeavours you hoped to succeed in? What could you have done better with your time, or with your effort? It is a time to focus on the parts of your life that require work, and to make those areas a priority for the year to come.
So, I look back on my year from Kislev to Kislev, and I find an incredible amount of things to reflect upon. I am shocked as well as humbled when I review my year and find that the girl that I was at the threshold of twenty is not the woman that I am now on the stage of twenty-one. I have matured and grown in ways that I never imagined possible. I made a firm decision to work on myself, stuck to it, and am proud to say that I have found myself on the other side of my resolution in a healthier, calmer state of being.
Where was I a year ago? Living in a basement apartment with no heat, working a crumby job for a boss with sticky hands. I was confused. Shattered Illusions was approximately four chapters from the end, and that scared me almost to death. I was absolutely miserable. Now, I find myself in a completely different place, physically and mentally. I’m happier. I smile more, I sing more. I have allowed life to grow on me, and I have gained from that move. Without realizing it, I stopped getting in my own way and allowed life to just be.
A year ago, I was striving to complete my first novel. This year, I am running the last miles in the marathon of publication. A whole lot can change in a year if only you allow time to take it’s natural course.
Sometimes, you just have to step back and allow life to happen for you. Not that you should just sit back and allow life to fly by, but it’s not such a bad idea to lose control either.
That is what I learned in the 365 days since I turned twenty. You can’t control life, but you can control the way you react to any given situation, which ever emotion it is meant to evoke.
I think this is the perfect resolution. And, since I technically didn’t openly make this resolution last year, this year I am going to make it official. My resolution for this upcoming year is going to be to learn how to keep myself grounded in difficult times. To build upon the resolution I made around Rosh Hashana: I will think before I act in times of stress, as well as in times of happiness. I will remember that while I cannot control events, or other people’s behaviors, I can control my own. I will learn to stay grounded and centered in difficult situations. It may become a bigger challenge now that I’ve accepted it as a resolution, but if I was able to do it subconsciously for an entire year, then I can do it all the better with the knowledge I have gained from my experiences. I’m looking forward to see where the results take me by the time my next birthday rolls around…
Though the allotted time for blessings is over, I feel I must part with a blessing to each and every one of you. I bless you to find tranquility, clarity, and happiness in every aspect your life. May you always see the hand of the divine in your daily travels, and may everything that comes your way be in light of revealed good. I bless you with health, success, prosperity, fulfillment, contentment, peace and immense joy. May you always remain an open vessel to receive any and all blessings that come your way.
L’chaim to one and all.