June 8, 2017

Life, Death, & turning 37.

* All quotes in this article are from salt by Nayyirah Waheed. ~ Editor 

“i am a child of three countries. the water. the heat. the words.” ~ Nayyirah Waheed 


I was born roughly 1,925 weeks ago.

That number is only slightly more arbitrary than the corresponding number of years: 37.

Age is strange.

On the inside, I feel about 21. From the outside, it might seem like I am 80-something, based on my much-cherished, early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle. Nonetheless, I am barreling toward 40. How can this be possible? Am I middle-aged?

I clearly remember my dad’s 39th birthday—September 30, 1991. Our family gathered in the kitchen to sing to him and eat the German chocolate cake my mom had made. I was 11 years old and suddenly overcome with nostalgia and concern for my dad’s advancing age. I was jolted by the revelation that my dad would one day die, and so would I, and so would we all. According to my childish logic, 39 sounded alarmingly close to “old.”

“expect sadness like you expect rain. both cleanse you.” ~ natural 

Last week, I turned 37. My parents are 64. Dude, it’s 2017! In the future, it will be the year 2049. What do any of these numbers mean? What’s in a year? Isn’t time ultimately this moment, whatever is happening in the stream of consciousness of the present moment?

Time marches on, yet life feels timeless…at times.

My husband teases that I’m a child of the 80s, while he belongs to the far superior decade of the 70s. Mind you, he was born in the summer of ’79. I appreciate that the 80s were low-tech. I am grateful that social media did not exist until I was in college. I reminisce about the time before selfie sticks, smartphones, and multitasking reigned. Yet, I am appalled to think of how many hours of TV I watched as a kid. I haven’t owned a television for well over a decade.

“we lay in our country. love makes us a homeland.”

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past few years about learning and unlearning. A lesson I am currently unlearning through my experience as a parent is, “You have to be nice.” Be a good girl—try a little harder. Study hard. Work hard. Play hard.

Nowadays, I am more into softness.

“stay soft. it looks beautiful on you.”

I catch myself telling my four-year-old, “Be nice.” Or, urging her to hug someone or give a high-five or say something for goodness sake. All day, every day at home, she talks, sings, laughs, cries, and declares things aloud almost non-stop. When we go out, she’s virtually silent.

That’s okay. I am practicing letting her be, letting her do as she wishes—as long as it’s with kindness, respect, and lovingness. I am being softer and gentler with her, reasoning with her in a calm way, when she is not being so kind, loving, or respectful.

I’m unlearning “be nice” as a social construct, while reminding myself to be nice, as in—practice kindness to all beings without exception.

I’m delighted to live where we live. I have found my home and created my small family. I have found a space to feel safe and free, outside the framework of the norm. At the same time, I wonder where else we will live, where else we will travel. I long to be near the ocean.

“sit in the ocean. it is one of the best medicines on the planet.” ~ the water

Another day older, another day of precious life, another day closer to cheerful death.

I am a 30-something. I’ve learned a lot since I was a 20-something.

Have I grown, evolved, matured, become more grounded and balanced in general? Have I gained wisdom? Maybe. Experience? Definitely. Most of all—self-knowledge.

Understanding of my own mind, body, and heart. Recalling always, the essence of life and dharma: suffering, impermanence, liberation, kindness, and compassion.

“i am your friend. a soul for your soul. a place for your life. home. know this. sun or water. here or away. we are a lighthouse. we leave. and we stay.” ~ lighthouse



Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Image: Unsplash 
Editor: Lieselle Davidson

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