My twin sister and I turned 39 this year. I can’t speak for her but for me this was a big deal. I remember when my parents turned 40 and at the time thinking they were oooooold. So knowing we are approaching 40 has had me thinking a lot about who I am, what I want to choose for my life going forward, and all those other deep questions you expect to ask yourself when you are going through a midlife crisis.
What do you decide to do when going through a so-called midlife crisis? You buy a corvette or get a tattoo. We choose the latter.
The tattoo I knew I wanted to get - had to get - is the Chinese symbol for listening and I wanted to get it by my ear as a reminder to always listen with my eyes, ears, heart, and undivided attention. My sister decided to get a lotus flower, a beautiful and intricate design with an Om sign in the middle of it. Hers was much larger than mine and she choose a more delicate (read: painful) place to get it than I did.
I knew that getting a tattoo isn’t an entirely comfortable experience and I dreaded the pain I was going to feel. I decided to use my yoga breath to get me through it and by the end was calm enough that I felt like I could take a nap while I was laying on the table.
My sisters experience was entirely different. As I watched her sit and use her yoga breath, she was turning pale, sweating, and looked like she might either throw up or pass out. I’m sure she “was thinking, “why the XXXX did I choose to do this?!”.
But she got through it. Just like a lotus flower has to fight it’s way through the mud and muck to meet the sun to bloom, she has fought her way through some incredibly dark times to rise above and meet the light.
I have been with her throughout the years and experiences that continuously drug her through the mud. And I’ve learned that we have two options in life when faced with painful experiences. We can choose to be the victim or the survivor. We can choose to be stuck in the mud or to rise above.
My sister has chosen, time and again, to pull herself through the murky, muddy waters and to continue to rise. It hasn’t happened overnight and it hasn’t happened without incredible pain and suffering. But watching her bloom and become the awe-inspiring and beautiful flower that she is has been amazing.
She wears her lotus flower tattoo with pride and honor. She knows, first hand, the work it takes to bloom and rise above the darkness. So as I contemplate what I want my next 40 years to look like, it’s easy. I want to continue to choose rebirth each and every day, knowing that the lessons I am learning along the way continue to slowly open my petals to embrace the beauty and light all around me.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin