Today is my birthday, and I am in Aruba.
I have awakened to the sounds of the Caribbean and the smell of the sea for two days. I will rinse and repeat for two more. I don’t think I have to describe it, but just in case: the Caribbean is different than the Atlantic Ocean. It is quiet, unassuming, yet powerful. Every now and then, waves remind you that you are not in control. Sea salt has wafted past my nostrils ever so softly, calming my parasympathetic nervous system and relaxing my body. The sand is fine and white. Nothing compares to the serenity of the sea, and the Caribbean on the Aruba side has not disappointed. I am here because I want to be.
Invitations were carefully crafted. In the past, I wasn’t deliberate about who surrounded me. Haphazard invites led to being in the company of people who didn’t always have my best interest at heart. Sometimes, they arrived because it was a good business opportunity; other times, family were there simply because they were…family. But no more. This year, I focused on my body’s response to hearing folks’ names. Only warm and fuzzies were desired, not people bound by obligation. I invited who I wanted. Those who had the time, money, and energy arrived because they wanted to. They are here because I wanted them to be and because they could be.
Activities were tailored to my wants. Multiple years out of the country with my husband have taught me what I can and cannot tolerate. This is not the trip for countless guided tours, where someone drones on about how their country chose to colonize indigenous people. Nope. I will have none of that. Yesterday, we enjoyed meals and champagne on a catamaran. We donned lifejackets and flippers and waded in water clear enough to see striped zebrafish. Tonight, we will dine on the beach, and I hope there will be a resounding Happy Birthday song. Tomorrow, we will parasail. I have been doing what I want to do, and those who wanted to join me have as well.
Some people may read this and think that I’m being selfish. You will hear no arguments from me. Perhaps, I am. But so, what? “Selfish” has gotten a bad rep, lately. I’m here to announce that it is okay to do what you want to do, as much as you possibly can.
We were not born to toil for employers; we were not born to be in committed relationships, where we constantly acquiesce to someone else’s needs; we were not put here to procreate and then be at our children’s beck and call. Well, I wasn’t. I know this is a common theme of mine, but I wholeheartedly, in my bones, feel this. It is okay to do what you want to do, as much as you possibly can.
So, on my 50th birthday, the fifth thing I’d like to share is that you are always allowed to do what you want to do, even if others disagree. I’m also leaving you with a song that my favorite DJ plays, aptly called “Free.” You can read about the history of the making of the song here, or listen below. Either way, I hope I have affirmed your deep desires. I hope you take heed.
I’ve turned 50, and I’ve processed and documented it here. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ve shared them, but I have one more lesson. Be sure to come back and read what it is in June.