Today the wind was incredibly strong.
It was so strong that it woke me up at night. The leftover autumn leaves rustling, the trees howling.
The wind was so strong that even my heavy, black trench coat flapped up and down, exposing my legs to the winter cold.
It was so strong that as I traveled the 10 strides between the car and the door at daycare, my baby instinctively nestled into my neck as soon as it hit her chapped, rosy cheeks.
The wind was so strong that the cardboard and plastic bags that sat in our porch recycling bins were found donning our winter green grass and covering the flower beds where spring blossoms are already blooming.
Today is my birthday.
I awoke this morning to messages of love and happiness: wet kisses from my children; text messages, chock-full of emoticons; private messages through Facebook; emails; phone calls; cards in the mail; thoughtful gifts and gifts of the heart.
Whenever I heard from a particular person, I paused and thought about the relationship that I had with them. We might have connected through high school majorettes, or perhaps at a college fraternity party. We might have a shared history of love, of loss, of family, of joy. Whatever our connection, I thought about the impact that this person had on my life. And I said to myself: I am who I am because of you…and you…and you. Thank you.
Like the strong wind on a cold winter’s day, I cannot help being influenced by each person that is blown into my life. The ebbs and flows of my cell phone notifications, with one more message, with one more contact of admiration showered me sporadically throughout the day, like the wind blowing back-and-forth. What would I do with these messages? What do I do with life’s messages? How do I deal with the strong wind?
Because my birthday is at the beginning of March, the weather is always unpredictable. Sometimes the flowers have already blossomed and sometimes there is snow on the ground. Sometimes I am wearing my bulkiest winter coat, sometimes it’s so warm I can almost wear white – even before Memorial Day.
My birthday wind teaches me to be flexible.
I never know when I go to sleep the night before my birthday what the weather will be like, who will contact me, who will remember me. But I am ready and open. I can be influenced by each person’s love, to be receptive of their kindness, to be walking with life’s strong winds, instead of against them.
I cry at the thought of people calling religious organizations and nursery schools with bomb threats. I am angered when I think of people painting swastikas on buildings and defacing tombstones in cemeteries, full of the souls of people who once were.
But today is a day that reminds me that I cannot push against the madness in the world around me. My birthday is a blessing to call me back to me. It’s a reminder of my former self that was crafted by so many of you. And, it’s an invitation to my future self to not push against the hate and the pain, but to embrace the possibility of hope for a better tomorrow, for what could be or might be.
Friends, family: I thank you. I love you. You have made me me. When I don’t like me, don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But when I love me, I will indeed thank you.
Birthday wind: thank you. I don’t always like you. I sometimes resent you blowing in my face, especially when I have no choice or when I least expect it. But thank you for the challenges you give me. I am me and I will be a better me in the year to come, because of you.