I just completed a glorious 50th birthday week, where I had the pleasure of celebrating with many of the people I love most in the world. I had a theatre evening with my husband, a family dinner at home, and a short and happy reunion with our daughter who’d been out of state for the summer.
I also had a party with my Mom and several of my women friends, each of whom shared a photo and a story about memories we had made together. It struck me after I left that none of the stories had anything to do with my accomplishments or so called successes. Indeed, many of the words that evoked the most hilarity and poignancy had to do with questionable choices I had made in my youth, and all of the ways I continue to be uniquely messy as a human being.
I have been a terrible driver (it’s possible that I’m still not as good as I think I am).
I’ve said things that ought not to have been said.
I can be judgmental, even though my own judgment is sometimes lacking.
I often pretend to know, when I really don’t.
I can be insufferably self-righteous.
I have many, many other flaws that I shan’t name here but that my family and friends know very well.
And yet, still, they love me.
I left the party feeling more abundant than ever, overflowing in the laughter and glow that only deep friendship, celebration and compassionate acceptance can create.
My birthday was a wonderful reminder that relationships are our greatest treasure, and that the lives we create for ourselves are precious and fleeting.
Even our mistakes and failures can become memories that deepen our bonds and help us to realize that every moment is a gift.
We are not our accomplishments. Our greatest impact comes from the kindnesses we extend, from how we choose to respond to our challenges and failures, from the forgiveness we offer ourselves and others, and from the love we share.
May all the birthday wishes in your heart of hearts come true!
Photo Courtesy of Sue Lesch Photography