Yesterday, I celebrated another trip around the sun and it was special. Now, I’m not one to fuss about my birthday as I felt that it was just another day on the calendar, nothing special.
My birthday celebrations have always been decided by my family and this year was no different. They spent a few days before yesterday talking about what they wanted and didn’t bother to ask me. Well, I’d have dampened the mood and opted for no cake or any celebration whatsoever.
Over the years, I noticed a pattern; usually, around my birthday or anytime during August, I’d lose something dear or some painful event would occur. This deterred me from thoughts of celebrations, no matter how small.
This year I felt different, I was excited and looking forward to the day. I wanted to steal some time for myself before the good wishes started flooding my phone. I wanted for this day, something I hadn’t had enough of since the year began, solitude. I wanted to be surrounded by nature and eat dark chocolate and nuts.
I left home at 6am to go for a hike. My nephew was kind enough to accompany me because had he not, I’d have been mauled by dogs along the way. Exaggeration, I know. I had intended it to be a solo hike but he was great company.
We followed three different trails, each with breathtaking views of the hills and Umngeni river. I’m fortunate to live in the Valley of a 1000 Hills, one is never short of hiking spots. I am however disappointed that I hadn’t taken up hiking sooner.
We arrived at this particular hill, high up. There was an unplanned moment of silence, both of us admiring the view.
I stood there, felt the cool breeze across my face, watched the cows graze below me, listened to the birds chirping in trees and the whistles of the wind. At that moment, nothing else mattered. I smiled for no particular reason.
I felt light. No tears were welling up in my eyes. There was no rush to do anything and no voice demanding my attention. I was in the moment, alive, grateful and joyful.
I realized that I had a lot to celebrate. Life may not have worked out the way I’d hope but I’d done a lot for someone who wasn’t supposed to live long. Every achievement matters no matter how insignificant it may seem.
There have been times in my life when happiness was a fleeting dream and pain was a constant. I’ve had many kisses with death and have flirted with her more than I can count. I’ve lost so much, failed, tried, only to fail again. I’ve had darkness strip me bare, imprison me and steal beautiful experiences from me.
I stood on that hill, free from all the chains I once held dear and all the fears I nurtured.
I don’t know what the future holds but I’m ready for all the good that is to come. I will celebrate myself more because I am a big deal in my own right.
So here’s to life, good health, more laughter and peaceful moments on top of hills.
I’m still sore from the hike but the dark chocolate I managed to hide from everyone (while they had cake) will surely make it bearable.