I rose early on my birthday last week, stepping outside into air cool and quiet. All was still. No breeze rustling the bamboo fronds. No birds bouncing from branches. No squirrels catapulting from the highest tree limbs to the wooden fence and back up to the studio roof.
I live my days sensitive to time–perplexed by the way it can stretch out, one long moment after another, and how, also, it can dart and weave and feel like pinpricks of reality, barely realized, scarcely seen, unnoticed before it disappears.
I have lived the habit of missing time.
But not today.
The day of my birthday is usually when I am most sensitive to time–more than in December, that time of reflection and planning for the new year. Or even on my children’s birthdays, although their aging always feels like a mind-bender to me. How did you change from cuddly baby to squirmy toddler to this independent teenager who is about to leave home? Rather than being grateful for the years of living, the miracle of these years, I have often spent my birthday hyper-aware of all the time that has passed, as if it had escaped me somehow and I failed at slowing it and corraling it back.
But on my birthday last week, at the moment I stepped out the door into the crisp morning air, I realized that my perception of time was different. Rather than feeling anxious that another year of my life had passed, I felt waves of gratitude for the miracle of my life at all.
How blessed am I to have lived this long? How blessed am I to live in a world of water and air, flowers and mountains, art and song? How blessed am I to experience adventure and imagination, where anything is possible, where people are wildly complicated and captivatingly imperfect and shine with stunning beauty like the sun?
What a miracle to awake to light each day and the darkness each night. What a miracle to get to think and dream, accept challenges and work problems. What a miracle to get to mess up and try again and forgive and love even when it hurts and feels impossible. What a miracle to experience the aging of a body and a beating of a heart both held in the gaze of God?
I am loved. You are loved. Dearly, dearly loved.
There is nothing to fear this day in the ticking of a clock, the weakening of a body. Wistfulness and regret is not for us. Not this day.
Look up. Look up. Look at how long you have lived! All of life is set before you. Never-ending. Beautiful and full of possibilities. Even in the hardship. Even in the challenge. Even in the unknowing. There is good here. Right now. And more good is yet to come.
For the Loop Poetry Project this week, write a poem about your relationship with time–what you think about it, how you approach it. Perhaps you would want to consider having a conversation with Time, as if it were a person. Or perhaps you’d like to tell a story about it–or show, through figurative language, how time can be manipulated or how it manipulates you.
How does time motivate you? Or drain you? How does time frustrate you or inspire you? What stories can time tell you? What wisdom has time given you? What trials and struggles? What glories and gifts?
Share your poem here, in the comments below, or on social media, using the hashtag #looppoetryproject. If you haven’t yet joined the Loop Poetry Project private group on Facebook, I encourage you to check it out–a community of kind and encouraging women who believe that writing can be a tool for self-awareness–and poetry is a form of writing that lends itself to an even deeper study and healing of the heart.
with love, from this one true heart,
I am aware it is my birthday
and look for everything
around me to speak,
the stillness of morning
when all is possible,
everything in front of me
when the sun rises slowly,
offering light kissing branches
and rooftops and bird wings
and the wind holds it breath
so that time is expectant and holy
and I am okay with its shifting—
the way forty-eight years feels
more compact than
one long song stretched
through innumerable choices to
see a moment
for what it is and yet
can never understand:
love standing in one place and
in all places at once
so I am consistently held
and I am not afraid
to be overwhelmed by
all that is possible
and perfect and true.