Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Interdependence Day (to me)!

Yes, you heard right, Interdependence Day. I don’t mean Canada Day or even, for those down south, Independence Day. I mean exactly what I wrote: interdependence, just like the blog. You won’t find it on the calendar although you may have one in your journal. It is a personal day, a day that is intensely private yet supremely beneficial to all concerned. My interdependence day is arriving fast and it just so happens to coincide with my birthday.

It all started three years ago, a few weeks before I turned 50. I got into a minor conflict with my then employer who wanted me to work on my birthday. It was an unexpected request, not my usual day to work, but through implicit and explicit messages of obligation and duty I finally agreed with one caveat: Mark this day, I said, for I will never, ever back down on my birthday again. Let my 50th year be the beginning of doing exactly want I want on this one day.

And so it began. Ever since that fateful statement I have made my birthday exclusively mine. I do not pick up the phone, answer emails, or hang out with friends and family. It is not that I isolate, it is more that I spend time to celebrate me and me alone.

You know how it is… you get together with another person and during that time together you have to consider their limitations, feelings, and thoughts as they do to yours. This could be anything from trivial concerns to major ones: a time constraint, a dislike of too much sun or a lack of money. And it’s not that I feel  taking others into account is a bad thing—I deeply appreciate the give and take of community living—but one day of the year should be devoted totally to self… one where there are no feelings of guilt if you don’t call your aged parents or you have to leave the party because you are the designated driver and your passengers want to leave. A day where are all expectations are known (as much as you know yourself), where decisions can be sporadic and choices bizarre, and where the full panorama of life can be met with utmost presence. My birthday is totally egocentric and self serving and I make no apologies for it.

My day starts with a long hike through old growth forest—the quiet rhythm of cedars and firs setting the pace; the rich stillness of nature a tapestry of connections. The trail meanders up to a small lake high in the hills where I take rest and meditate, reflecting on the year to come and that which has passed. I give thanks to my ancestors and give gratitude to my friends and family, abilities and idiosyncrasies. Later in the afternoon I find a cafĂ© for decadent desert and coffee. I sit in solitude enjoying the flavours while I reflect some more. I am home by nightfall, tired but joyous with full knowledge of all the gifts that make up my life.  I wish this day on everyone.

I haven’t always called my birthday Interdependence Day. In fact, today is the first time but I like it. It totally meshes with my beliefs of what defines this state of being.

What is interdependence? Simply said, it is the opposite of codependence. Whereas codependence is about trying to get one's needs met by taking care of (or, adversely, bullying) others, interdependence is about taking healthy care of self with the result that there is overall gain in one’s community. It is about respecting both ourselves and others, acting within the parameters of mutuality, and taking leadership over who we are and where we are going. Lying beneath it all is a foundation of creative living and celebrated uniqueness.

Each birth(interdependence)day I dedicate to celebrating me with full-hearted exclusiveness. Although it sounds selfish and perhaps even narcissistic, this one day balances out the other 364 days of community living. My Interdependence Day is about honouring self and giving reverence to over 50 years of learning how to do it. This day shines with the internal brilliance of "I am enough" and provides a year’s worth of joy knowing that I not only like myself but trust who I am.

As I said above, I wish this day for everyone. Happy Interdependence Day to you, whenever you choose to celebrate.

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