A Mindful Birthday Practice
I turned 35 this week. 🎈 It's not a milestone birthday. I feel neither young nor old. I don't know that I've put a lot of weight around birthdays, except for when I turned seven, because that was the year I decided I could be brave enough to go down the 3 foot slide that threw kids into the lake. Nevertheless, birthdays are nice times for reflection, as is the turn of the new year.
I'm reminded of the mental exercise to imagine your own funeral. Some people imagine their 90th birthday party, which is a little more cheery, and a little more within the theme of birthdays. But, maybe some of us all already 90, or some of us don't like big birthday parties. So, the funeral exercise is not about designing your funeral, picking the music or the readings or the menu. It's for perspective in what people will remember about you and your life.
I like to imagine the afterparty, instead of the funeral itself. Beyond the formality of a eulogy and the tears of a service, there is often a lot of cherished memories shared over a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne. (Do people generally have champagne at their funerals, or only a lucky few? )
This year I experienced a really distinct change when I revisited this exercise. Many years ago, I remember writing about what I had done, accomplishments, success stories, like a legacy. What did I contribute to the world? What was my impact? People talked about how well I treated the planet, and probably said something about my mindfulness empire, and changing people's lives for the better.
Now, I am longing for people at my funeral to say things like, "Kaitlynn was always having such a good time!" and "She really enjoyed her time here on Earth." They're not talking about what I did at all, just that I had fun doing it.
So I'm now working on enjoying my time. I'm slowly trying to incorporate activities I truly love to do. I'm putting less pressure around accomplishments and perfection and things that don't matter all that much. It's a fine line, because I do really enjoy being productive, but it's so easy for productivity to be tied to the stress of getting things done, and I'm being mindful of letting that go.
What will people say about you at your funeral (or your birthday party when you're really old)? Will they remember things you've done? How you treated them? The grudges you held? Your beliefs? The potluck dish you always brought? The twinkle in your eye?
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Still just me: Kaitlynn.