Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sundowning, Birthday Blues and Other Side Effects of the Season

It is December 1st, and y'all, I am really going to try this year...despite my Grinchy inclinations, despite my annoyance with various family members, despite my exhaustion, and despite the fact that this time of year exposes all of the flaws in my life (all the proof that I am really just a Busy Black hot mess). I am really going to try not to give in to end of the year despair.

But it doesn't help that once my birthday comes in a few days, I will have truly hit that point where there is a lot more life in my rearview mirror than in my windshield. Maybe. Because I could live to be 90 years old or more, and I hope that I could live that long in good health and in my right mind. Maybe. And with something to show for all of that time.

Maybe this book that I started writing this summer, but have not revisited since September, will have been a best-seller at some point in the next 45 years and I will get a New York Times profile article that acknowledges my body of writing. Maybe I will get to talk about my writing process and share how I kept at it for years in obscurity until one fateful day. Because every writer dreams of being able to share that journey, and so it is my hope that I will get that opportunity at some point.

But can I be honest?

When it is a few days before your next milestone birthday, and you are surveying all of your nonaccomplishments and unfulfilled dreams, it is really easy to get depressed. It is so easy to see the carefully curated lives of your peers and acquaintances and still be envious, even though you suspect there is a lot hiding in plain sight that you just aren't noticing. But even if you did notice their imperfections, you would still convince yourself that yours are more obvious.

So you take on tasks that you hope will help you to achieve something. You keep trying, in spite of the fact that for years you have felt like a fraud. You have been writing for yourself. That success is illusory. That whenever you thought you had the chance to ascend to another level, life intervened and you failed to overcome the obstacles. That whenever life intervenes, it is in service to someone else's needs, definitely not yours. That it often feels that those voices that urge you to support others are only speaking to you. That those encouraging memes and sayings and motivational posters and stuff--all nice for decorating empty walls, but not much else.

But you've realized a few truths about life in the last few years. Never say never. Expect the unexpected. Just when you are about to throw in the towel, you have to use it. And that graveyards are full of bones and stones. As long as you are among the living, you can still pursue your dreams.

I can still pursue my dreams or can dream new ones if I have outgrown the old ones. I can see this birthday as a starting point. I can be proud that I have the means and ability to support others, which is a blessing. I can look in that rearview mirror and smile about a lot of what is behind me. I can choose the road ahead of me. Here I come.

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