Somehow I’ve Survived

My birthdays have often been hard for me to take. They have this way of reminding me of what I’ve done over the past year, and of what I haven’t done.

Yesterday was not only my birthday, but I hit the half-century mark. Close to impossible for me to believe.

As a child, I remember thinking of anyone older than 17 as ancient. I didn’t know then that most of the adults around me, probably were in shock at how quickly their lives were passing.

I think of my mom and dad, when I was 8 years old, and Matthew was 4. My mom was 30, and my dad was 34. My mom was a baby when she had me! I think of myself at the age of 22, and I cannot imagine having had a child at that time. Not that I’ve been able to imagine having a child at any time…

I had a fantastic birthday. I went snorkeling from 9 am to 12 pm, off the coast of Kona. I hadn’t known in advance that I’d be traveling in a small speedboat, at high speeds, over choppy waters. Thankfully, I remembered to pop some Dramamine tabs.

The captain took us out quite far, stopping when he noticed some dolphins coming our way. He had us don our snorkeling gear, sit on the edge of the boat-which was inflated rubber, and drop into the deeps at the count of 3.

I could see the bottom of the ocean where we were, but not very well. I can’t even guess at how deep it actually was. A little bit of fear rose up in me, as I wondered if there were any hungry sharks around.

About 10 dolphins swam by us, on that first hop into the ocean. They were obviously on a journey together, but there were a few stragglers. The waters weren’t real clear, but they were at times close enough for me to see well. One swam on her back, with a calf atop her tummy. It was enchanting.

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We also went to a marine sanctuary where coral lined the the rock walls of the cove we were in. Fish were everywhere. The trumpet fish is one of my favorites. I saw only one of them. They are long, slender, and a silvery yellow color. They swim very close to the surface, so the light bounces off of them and sets them aglow.

I heard that this bay has some reef sharks. I kind of wanted to see one. They stay there until they grow into bigger animals, hiding in caves in the rocks down low. Apparently, they tend to be quite shy.

I was going to stay in Kona that night, but decided to splurge and stay in a resort in Waimea, which is further along the coast, and has beautiful white sand beaches. I’d never been there before.

I booked myself into a place, called the Hapuna Prince Beach Hotel. I paid enough for the room, but didn’t initially realize that I was only able to afford it, because major construction work was going on. My room was gorgeous and large.

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It had a deck with a table and chairs, and a lounge chair on it. The view was incredible.img_3956

Somehow, being alone for the entire day-or at least without a close friend or family member to share my experiences with, didn’t bother me as much as I’d expected. I believe I’ve finally learned to enjoy my own company. Quite an accomplishment for me.

I thought a lot about what I want for the year. Rosh Hoshanah, or the Jewish New Year, also fell on my birthday this year. We eat apples and honey on this day, to ensure a sweet year to come.

I did some journal writing. I guess what I want most is to be happy, and healthy, and wise. Not that those three always go together… I’d like to be a better person. I understand that each of us is flawed in our own ways, and struggling to find meaning in life. I’d like to continue painting, and being prolific. I want to write more.

Mostly, I want to remember how special my birthday was. How fortunate I am to have spent so much time here on the big island of Hawaii. I want to be able to access these memories,  as much as possible when I am feeling low, or even depressed.

My youth was not a happy one. It seems that as I get older, I get closer to that elusive state of being called joyousness. I hope that I will continue in this direction. That I will continue to focus on my strengths, the good people in my life, and all that I have to be grateful for. This has not always been easy for me to do. This year, I’m going to give it my best try.

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