I turned 35 on Friday. Usually birthdays are pretty ho-hum in my world; I’ve never been one to get particularly excited about them one way or the other. While so many people seem to get triggered by rising numbers, the idea of getting older has always weirdly appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m already an “old soul,” so it actually feels like some strange version of “catch up” is happening. After all, it seems, some days, that I’ve spent a lot of my life stuck in some sort of awkward gap between the place where my soul has already expanded into and the place where the rest of me is actually equipped to live.
But that gap is finally narrowing.
What I can tell you is that, this year, I feel like I got a system upgrade. It’s as if the biggest, boldest, wildest version of who I am has finally come online. And while the experience is an incredible blessing, the sync-up process is a bitch.
And so, for my birthday, I also got tears. Lots of them.
There is nothing to romanticize about rebirth because, let’s face it: it is always preceded by death. The old is at once rendered obsolete and so the question of what to do with the residue arises. Nevermind the task of trying to find one’s bearings inside all of the new and clumsy expansiveness.
The night before my birthday I had a dream. I was at the airport, frantically trying to find my bags so that I could get to the gate. They were nowhere to be found. I was pressed for time; the flight was due to leave in 20 minutes. After a quick-and-dirty, breathless, last-ditch-effort search, I came up empty once again. If I wanted to travel, my only option was to proceed to boarding and get on the plane sans baggage.
Which is what I did…in the dream.
Of course, the same work outside of the dreamtime can be even more trippy and difficult. But let me digress for a moment. A couple of years ago, I went to a satsang with Adyashanti. While I don’t resonate with him entirely, he does possess a certain wisdom at times. At that particular event he was working with a woman who was terribly stymied and stuck and he said something that, in this moment, strikes me as relevant to my dream symbolism. He told the woman that she was trying to get through the proverbial “eye of the needle” (and into “Heaven”), but that she insisted on having her baggage (i.e. outmoded defenses and old “coping” mechanisms) in tow. And it didn’t work like that. The “eye” was only so big, and there wasn’t room for all of that extra cargo. Not to mention the fact that in that realm, it would all be rendered useless anyway. So why junk up the joint?
The difference, somehow, between my scenario and hers, is that I feel as though I was somehow tricked into checking my baggage and was then pushed through the gate on the sly. So here I am, a babe in the woods of some Brave New World, with only a confused heart and a wonky navigation system at the ready.
Thirty-five or not, it was enough to make me cry.
The other day Nicole Daedone posted a video on her site; it was a teaching clip in which she was working with a student around the task of moving from “girl to woman.” Now, mind you, in Nicole’s world this transition is something else entirely (lest you think you’ve already mastered it!). In any case, the gist of her message was that, in order to make this shift, you need to move from being “cute and edgy” to being “beautiful.” Which will require a new level of backbone because this is territory where you’ll most certainly get your ass kicked. And the hardest part about this whole process will be the fact that, as you go head-to-head with it, you’ll be confronting every other woman who is afraid to make the very same transition. And so it will be painful because some will want to kill you. They’ll want to kill you because a part of them doesn’t want this transformation to be possible. After all, it’s too much. But then, paradoxically, there’s another part that’s secretly rooting for you. If you survive, you’ll be like a beacon. It’s your choice: you’ll either be “their hope or their hatred.”
Talk about a lot of pressure. But it’s no doubt part of what I’m here to do. And the Universe just upped the ante. It issued me a system upgrade and it stole my bags in one fell swoop.
The morning I turned 35 I sat in my office after my first client left and I sobbed. I was in touch with a sense of urgency that felt strangely reminiscent of when an ex-lover and dear childhood friend passed away three summers ago.
I guess I was thinking about death because a part of me died.
Which also means that a part of me was just born, too. But right now that part feels new and fragile and vulnerable, and not necessarily ripe for an ass-kicking. And yet, at the same time, I know that, in the New World, this seemingly flimsy Self is actually the most robust part of me.
But the streets are empty, and it’s still too cold for a jacket and too warm for a coat; and all the things that used to mean things are not things anymore and after so much howling, we forgot how to speak.
Over the years I’ve noticed how my heart gets a cold right before a world ends and another begins. It swells, it drowns, it breaks and it makes infernal, creaturely noise as if it had a mouth and that mouth was me and I was painfully opening against my will. And I’m just leaving bite marks on everything I touch.
And so my challenge is to allow this process to continue to soften me. To work me, like clay, in the palms of its supple hands, reshaping me against the force of my own resistance, into an even fuller expression of Beauty.
So far I am surrendering well. When my friends showed up to celebrate on Friday night, they asked about my day. I told them about the tears. I told them about death and rebirth. I cried again.
“I love that you cried at your party,” my one friend confessed later that evening. “It means that you’re In It.”
And somehow that made it all okay.