The wishes I make after blowing out the candles are profoundly different now that I’m years beyond decorating the birthday cake with one candle for each year. It’s not that I no longer want things — sure a new couch would liven up the living room and it’s about time we had a new air fryer – but I have learned that true, lasting happiness is not contingent on material bounty. (How many people do you know who are surrounded with all the material comforts of life, yet still are unhappy!)?
The well-intended birthday ritual of “making a wish” is fun and fanciful, so I close my eyes and conjure up a wish list of the obvious: good health, a loving family, a happy life. It is a happy occasion so there is no mention of the layers of emotional, physical and spiritual challenges that must be confronted to make the wishes come true. After the dishes are washed and the decorations are put away, reality will return soon enough.
Wishful thinking aside, I have learned over the years that I am responsible for my own happiness. There is no getting around it. When the birthday party is over, I open the gift I give to myself, a reminder that everything I need, I already have within me. The flame burning on the altar when I sit in meditation is not a colorful birthday candle, it represents the light that glows in my heart center, guiding me past my ego self, connecting me to the higher self.
I’m not against wishing and hoping, but without accompanying initiative it is meaningless. Transformation does not arrive overnight. There is work to be done along the way. Healing requires an in-depth look at what your life is about, what is the purpose and meaning of your existence and how you can more fully express who you are in this lifetime. Initially, my clients look to therapy to find answers for their problems. My goal is to travel with them beyond the immediate, and to guide them with compassion and respect to take responsibility for their own healing.
I am at an age where I experience life fully by living in the present moment. My wish is to successfully follow the instructions of India’s living saint, Shree Maa: “Thinking too much about the future is of little value. Always try to make the present filled with beauty.”
(Disclaimer with a wistful laugh: I am only human, as all of us are, and try is the operative word.)