Today is my 40th birthday. Officially, because of the time difference between where I live now and where I was born, I guess I have not been born yet, but who is going to quibble over a few hours?
It is interesting that this birthday, which is known in the United States to be a milestone, falls on the Sabbath, which is a day of reflection and contemplation, because birthdays are always a time for me to reflect. My birthday also falls during Hanukkah this year, or should I say that Hanukkah overlaps my birthday (after all, my birthdate does not change, but Hanukkah does). So it is a “jubilee” and a milestone, and a multiple of my day of birth (i.e., the 4th), on the Sabbath, during Hanukkah. Overall, I hope this bodes well for a good year.
I know I have mentioned it before that I contemplate my life. I admit that I do a lot of reflecting on my life and my decisions, in order to determine how to live a better life, to be a more loving person, and to be as generous of a person as I possibly can. I know that I do not always meet these expectations of myself, but I can say that I honestly try. For those who truly know me, they know that my outer shell does not always match my inner self – I protect myself with great care. This may be a failing, for people are not able to see who I really am – it is only by reading my writing, seeing my photos, and spending time with me that people learn who I am.
And, in looking back over 40 years, I cannot say that I have lived a life without mistakes or regrets. Yet even my mistakes have been learning experiences, and even my regrets come with the knowledge that though things may have been different had I taken the road less traveled, they may not have been better.
Five years ago, if you were to have asked me where I thought I would be right now, I probably would not say Ukraine. I was working in a job I hated, and about to switch to a new one, which would ultimately lay me off and start me on the path that brought me to Peace Corps and to Ukraine. So I look at my career path, which has not been a smooth arc at all, and now think, maybe those are the things I was meant to do to get here. Maybe now that I know what I want to do “when I grow up” I will be able to do it. Being here, doing what I am doing, is certainly a good beginning. Even on the very bad days, when I feel like giving up, I realize that I won’t because there is more for me to do.
I know my mother will be reading this today. To her I say thank you. I do not thank you often enough for being there for me, for caring for me, for supporting me.
I would also like to thank my family and friends. In my life, I have met many people, but friends seem to be a rare breed indeed, and I am so lucky to have you in my life. Even those who I have not seen in a long time, or those I may not have even met, who show support – I mean you too! You all mean a great deal to me, more than you know.