Do you remember closing your eyes and making a wish before blowing the candles out on your birthday cake? When was the last time you did that?
This year I wanted to make all birthday spirits and superstitions (the ones that don’t like you voicing aloud your secret wishes) squirm by putting my wishes to paper. Picture me in freeze-frame, closing my eyes and scrunching my face to make my wish. I know I’m cheating a little by making it six.
First, though, there’s a reason I’m talking birthday talk, and that’s because today I’m another year older. I’m young and spritely, feeling lucky to be alive for these short 8,401 days. That makes me 23. It’s been good.
I feel I should add HAPPY BIRTHDAY in here now. There it is.
Okay. A birthday calls for reflection and that’s just what I’ve been doing (reflecting) because it’s been one hell of a year and one hell of a ride. Everything is moving around me quickly in the fast-paced world and I’ve been running around like a headless chicken doing this job and that, racing through thoughts and feelings. It’s been fun, but it’s not been easy. Hey, that’s not a bad thing.
This year, I’ve learnt more than ever or at least I think so.
A lot of it – lessons, directions, thoughts, etcetera – has come from wanting to make a contribution to the world to see positive social change and greater concern for the environment, and neither are easy to want or try to achieve; they seem impossible. In the process of trying to do my tiny bit as best as I know how to at this point, one minute I ride the waves of empowerment and hope, the next: disillusionment and despair. But ain’t that just life!
Life is always going to be complex, full of contradictions and moments of both hope and despair. Although I’m saying what you already know, the complexities behind everything in life will never leave and that’s why I simply wish to state my wishes for the world that I know (and you bet they’re loaded), the one that won’t simply change when I close my eyes and wish. Collective action must come with all that I write, and time too.
So, six wishes for my twenty-third birthday:
- For greater human equality and social justice, including an increased respect for cultural differences and varied human experience. For smaller gaps between the rich and poor.
- For a shift in human consciousness. To break the mould of capitalism and rebuild the system that currently appears to be broken. (Russell Brand might have been on the right track although some don’t agree).
- For greater knowledge of environmental destruction and greater respect for the natural world.
- For more happiness and self-acceptance throughout the world and greater kindness towards one another. For more laughter, empowerment and joy, and greater health and fitness to keep genuine happiness alive.
- For the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be reconsidered, and perhaps for the Gross National Happiness (GNH) to take its place worldwide.
- For the definition of (economic) growth to be redefined to encompass all these things so we can rebuild the current system into one that understands and encompasses limited growth, finite resources and precious humans that respect themselves, nature, each other, and ancient wisdom and ways of living and being (See what Jigme Thinley says on that one below).
What do you think? I know, hard task. I promise I won’t keep closing my eyes and wishing for the world that I’d like to see and never doing anything about it. I’ve made a commitment to be on this journey – one that I see many others going on too – so I’ll carry it through. Here’s what Jigme says:
“The time has come for global action to build a new world economic system that is no longer based on the illusion that limitless growth is possible on our precious and finite planet or that endless material gain promotes well-being. Instead, it will be a system that promotes harmony and respect for nature and each other, that respects our ancient wisdom and traditions, that protects our most vulnerable people as our own family, and that gives us time to live and enjoy our lives and to appreciate, rather than destroy our world. It will be an economic system, in short, that is fully sustainable and that is rooted in true, abiding well-being and happiness.”
Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, Bhutan
Now, let me blow out those candles!
Do you have some of your own wishes that you’d like to share here? Please do. And Happy Birthday to anyone else who shares this birthday with me!