It’s a good thing I no longer eat cake. The number of candles that would have to be lit to illuminate my birthday cake today would require a stand-by fire engine and crew. And though my lungs are healthy, it’s doubtful I could blow that many candles out in the course of a day, let alone in one breath.
As of today, I have survived more than five and a half decades on this lovely and intriguing planet. I have lived to become the editor of a small town publication, something I have always dreamed of doing. I am married to a brilliant, beautiful and extremely kind woman. I am an active musician. And there is enough food in the house to get me through the next couple of days. My blessings are indeed bountiful.
But, being human, I don’t live in the blessings. I live in the what-ifs and if-onlys. For instance, what if that food runs out and something happens to my job and there isn’t enough money to buy more for the rest of the week? Or, if only I hadn’t said that unskillful thing to someone last week and caused them to hate me for the rest of their lives.
Or: man, am I old. I can’t possibly have that much time left. And I certainly don’t have much energy to do the things I have left on my list.
It’s strange, the things we don’t learn over the years. I spend hours a day worrying over things that never, ever come to pass. I have conversations in my head with people that never come close to taking place in real life. I fret and frown and fuss my way through the days, certain that doom is just a few ticks away, and that it is all because of something I have, or haven’t done, or not done.
I will worry over the fact that I haven’t washed my car, to the point where all the energy I could have spent washing the car is used up worrying about it. I will put off paying bills until the delay costs me more money in late fees. I will focus on someone’s reckless driving to the point where my own driving becomes impaired, because I’m no longer focusing on the road, but on the bad driver.
All of this goes on while, in my actual life, great things happen each minute. The abundance and good fortune abound, the gifts are many, the world turns and, though I am just a miniscule bit in the wonder and grace of it all, I get to share in the beauty and bounty that is everywhere.
If only I could see it.
My birthday wish is this – now that I am a year older, I hope to gain at least a little bit of wisdom and be able to see past the constructed and false fears and doubts that keep me from relishing the miracles each moment brings with it.
Or, if nothing else, to at least lighten up a little bit.
That’s my birthday wish. But it probably won’t come true. After all, I don’t eat birthday cake any more, so there are no candles to blow out.