This week I turned 27. As I celebrate another birthday, I’ve also been reflecting on my 26th year. What gifts have befallen me along the road! (Although I’m still learning how to recognise these gifts at the time they appear; usually I only begin to appreciate them for what they really are in retrospect).
My Big Earthquake
Technically this happened when I was 24, but the shaky earth continues its generosity even now. Through this experience, I am on an adventure to a deeper, clearer place within myself. I have the earthquake to thank for my job, my relationships with others and with myself, and for my outlook on life.
After the earthquake, I was very fortunate to pick up some work with my former employer. But I couldn’t get any permanent hours, no matter how many positions within the organisation I applied for. I felt frustrated and annoyed. It “forced” me to search further afield. I stumbled across a vacancy in a big, unfamiliar city. The woman doing the recruiting saw something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself and helped build a fire in me, which won me the job.
Two months into my role, my new boss/friend abruptly left. I wondered whether I too should go, seeing as she had felt so unhappy in our workplace. I was on my own and it all seemed like too much to handle. But I persevered (even if at first just for the steady income) and the potential is slowly coming to fruition. I now have an amazing team of two working with me. I am in invested in the vision; in fact, I am one of the people driving it.
Now I am grateful to my former employer for declining to hire me. I am grateful to my boss/friend for leaving so I could take her place and make it my own. I am grateful to the challenges I am constantly presented with (even if I grind my teeth or curse at the time), so I can continue to stretch the way I think and feel and interact with others. This opportunity is beyond what I thought was possible to have at this time.
My boyfriend and I have been through a lot, both individually and as a couple. We have walked away and come back. Are still coming back…or rather trying to get to a different place, somewhere better than where we were before. There has been much suffering. We continue to wade through uncertainty and fear.
I don’t regret any of it though. I would not take any of the heartache back. Because in the uncomfortable and downright painful, there is a beautiful truth. The soil of our overrun, weed-filled, wild garden is developing a richness it otherwise would not have if we didn’t have to go out in the rain and turn the ground with our spades.
Thanks to my boyfriend, I am learning kindness, patience, compassion, forgiveness, non-attachment, honesty, authenticity, courage, deep love, real friendship. And best of all, these lessons are changing the relationship I have with myself. I am learning how to nurture and honor my imperfect self in a way I couldn’t before.
My family (and I’m talking about both my blood and soul relatives, here) has always been my greatest gift, one I ecstatically receive year after year. My family holds a mirror to my life and invites me to explore what I see – the light and the shadows. My family role models for me what big love looks like in action.
Sometimes the goodness of the lessons they offer are hidden to me until I have the experience to be able to understand and fully appreciate it. Sometimes I’m the one who has to be the light switch, so they can see.
Every interaction is a blessing. Each laugh, meal, secret, debate, and “I love you” shared is precious to me. Who knows whether we’ll be here together tomorrow?