Yesterday afternoon, I sat outside with an oversized mug of peppermint tea, and a notebook on my lap as I studied from my textbook.
I could hear the girls playing make believe with their newly made friend on the other side of the fence. My hair was still damp from our swim half an hour before. I broke from the sentence I was reading to answer a text from my best friend, who was driving in to visit me this weekend.
I took a moment to pause. I leaned my head back and looked up where the tree met the sky. I heard a knock at the door, disappointed to have my comfortable heart disturbed in that moment, I got up to answer it.
“Hello?” I opened the door to see a woman walking away. There on the porch was a gorgeous, colorful bouquet of flowers. I brought them inside and admired them before opening the card, “Dear Rebecca, This is your double chai birthday…”
They were from my mom and stepdad. My smile burst into a matching bloom. Chai means “life” in Hebrew, and is represented by the number 18.
This year, I’m a double chai, 36. I feel my age — hopeful, happy, filled with life, and an understanding I have been unable to grasp until now.
There is no secret potion or solution to being happy. Happiness is right in front of our faces in every moment, all of the time. It’s simple — To be happy is to love the life I live in this moment, absent of a wish for it to be any different than it is.
In previous years on my birthday, my focus has been the rumination of a dream — What would it be like, if? What would it be like if I was married right now, with another child? What would it be like if I was wealthier, with more friends and connections? What would it be like if I had published a book by now?
What ifs have no chair at the table of my life any longer. What is is more beautiful and welcomed than any what if could be.
My girlfriend has a quote board hanging in her home (where we are staying). It says, “There is only one happiness in life, to love and to be loved.”
Last night, as I sat on the beach watching the sun set on my 35th year of life, with my best friend beside me, and my children frolicking in the sand around me, I was overwhelmed with joy and a knowing:
I am exactly where I am supposed to be, wealthier beyond measure because I am happy — I am surrounded with people whom I love, who love me. The greatest measure of happiness and success is found in the depth of our relationships with the people in our lives, in the present.
My mom always said, “You are a success if you have one or two people in your life whom you trust with your life, who trust you with their life.”
This morning, I received a text: “Happy Birthday to my dearest friend in the world, who I would move mountains for.” That’s it right there — If we have people in our lives we would do anything for, who would do anything for us, we hold the key to happiness — we become happiness.
I love and I am loved. That’s the best birthday gift I could ask for. That’s what makes this birthday, happy. ~Rebecca