Birthday musings: Going all "existential mode" about aging and individuation.

This post is going to be rather personal. It's my birthday today. When I woke up and ran to the kitchen to get myself some mandatory morning coffee, I felt calm and ready to storm through the day. Then it hit me - it is my day today. And the feeling of being ready to storm through it got violently replaced with feeling as if I got struck by lightning. We're still in the "stormy" kind of vibe but not quite what I would expect. By the time I sat with my coffee I managed to break a full jar of honey on the kitchen floor and receive a bunch of birthday wishes. Sweet day, indeed.

After that, things started to spiral down. Inwards. When we celebrated my partner's birthday just two days ago, he went through a similar thing where he felt the urge to sum things up, sum himself up, analyze. I promised myself not to go this route, to just wing it through, screw internal work for the day. But each year it seems harder and harder to ignore this urge. It feels inevitable, like Hagalaz hailing down upon you with its full might, wiping away all the bullshit and petty excuses, making room for solid changes.

I know I'm not the only person experiencing lowered mood and melancholy as a birthday gift from my Psyche. A mini existential crisis. I wonder if people born during the Summer have it easier, but something makes me doubt it. This mechanism is very clever and exists for a reason - self-regulation and individuation. What better time is there to sum ourselves up and acknowledge the changes that happened throughout the year, if not our birthday? It's a level up, after all! And with every level, comes a new set of skills, wisdom and experiences to get to know, digest and absorb as integral parts of who we are.

Aging is a difficult topic, heavily tied to death, but also to refinement of self.
In ancient times, with age came the position in one's tribe. Rites of passage were a very important part of human existence, setting milestones in one's development. Each stage of existence was marked, proudly celebrated and came with a set of privileges as well as responsibilities. Both men and women had their separate ceremonies for which every member of their kin had to be prepared in advance.
In modern times, especially in modern societies of the first world, these milestones are blurred, not really celebrated and very much personal. One can potentially slip through their life without hitting any milestones, except adulthood and death. These two - adulthood and death - are inevitably noticed by others. The rest of the peak experiences we might go through are optional, ultimately depending on what an individual decides. We very much lack the rites of passage, mostly because of the "no pressure" philosophy of modern times. Nobody can force you to get married, start a family, have children, adapt to a certain role in society, fight for what's right, become a wise elder.
This "no pressure" approach has its consequences - with no pressure also comes no support and no discipline. If we might or might not go through something, it's easy to get lazy about it, putting important decisions/experiences aside, for later. Once we decide to commit to a certain path, we might quickly realize that we lack the support of others - because they might be following a different path, lack the understanding or simply not give a shit. This leaves us existentially lonely, and thus, prone to weakness or the feeling of abandonment. Despite of how hard it might be, there's only as much to look forward to in our lives as we commit ourselves to experience.

Constant commitmet is important. Setting goals, actualizing them, never giving up on our lives. It should never feel convenient enough, comfortable enough. And I don't mean our material status. There's always something we can improve internally, there's always more effort we can put into our personal practice and bettering the world around us. Finally, there's never enough reverence for our kin, our ancestry, our roots. All this is important in the process of individuation. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it's almost impossible to reach full individuation without the support of others, and vice versa.

These past two years hit me especially hard, on so many levels. Looking at it from today's perspective, especially after a few glasses of red, semi-dry wine, I can say it was The Tower time. The time of grief, sacrifice, shedding skin, stress and necessary changes. I survived. But being a survivor is not the end of the story. There's so much I still have to process to this day, to eventually wrap my mind around it and be able to integrate it.

This is precisely why this birthday turned into an existential crisis day. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way! And honestly, I wouldn't be able to learn my lesson from it if it wasn't for the supportive voices of friends and family. As much as we'd want to, not everything can be done alone. Being existentially lonely makes us become insensitive to other people's wounds as well our own wounds, we let them conveniently slip away and remain forgotten in order for us to function. But let's be real - "functioning" is not always a good choice, unless our sole survival is at stake. We sometimes need to let ourselves break down completely in order to raise stronger and more conscious.

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