It was our birthdays last month, Glen’s birthday just so happens to fall on the day after mine (which to be honest I sometimes resent because he takes the limelight away from MY special day!)
We didn’t have internet, phone coverage, friends or family to talk to. We didn’t open any presents or cards and to Glens disappointment, no cake. Despite the lack of traditional celebrations of being a year older, we certainly had a birthday to remember.
We happened to be miles aways from anywhere, deep in the wilds of nature in a national Park called Ningaloo in WA. Ningaloo is miles and miles of coves and beaches with a big expanse of turquoise reef right up to the shoreline, perfect for snorkelling and diving.
I learnt recently that the ancient indigenous don’t mark birthdays because age isn’t important to them, instead they celebrate their achievements. Achievements to them aren’t measured by success as we know it. They don’t celebrate promotions, exam results, how much money they have in the bank, how many kids they have raised, titles they have gained or letters agains’t their names. Success to them are achievements of the soul. This is measured by how much they have matured in qualities over time e.g: patience, kindness, independence, non attachment, acceptance, wisdom, courage, unconditional love, confidence, self acceptance, generosity etc. When their community all agree that a certain quality has been mastered within an individual, then they all celebrate the souls growth.
So on my birthday, as I stood on the squeaky white sand, I made a decision to follow the way of the ancient aboriginals instead of feeling sad that I was miles away from my loved ones. I started to acknowledge what I have achieved within the past year and what qualities I have mastered. When I did this, I realised I’ve learnt quite a bit, particularly going with the flow and not trying to control things to be a certain way. Most of all, I have learnt to TRUST and that actually, when you let go and go with the flow, things just seem to work out. I also chose to count all of my blessings and not my lacks, and as soon as I did all of this, my birthday became a truly magical day.
I looked up from my contemplation and in the distance I saw a humpback whale breach out of the water, then a few moments later some dolphins swam past me, then a giant turtle popped its head up to say hello then another whale jumped out of the water with its flipper in the air as if it was waving to me.
The more I was feeling grateful, the more this just kept happening. More whales jumped out of the water, more dolphins came to say hello, more turtles popped their heads up.
So as I stood on the beach on my birthday, I congratulated myself on my achievements and instead of feeling sad that I was away from family and friends, I felt a swell of gratitude and a deep contentment within me.
I also learnt on that day that birthday cards and cake are way overrated! I was hoping Glen would come to the same conclusion the next day as I know how much he loves his cake!