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A Birthday and the Autumnal Equinox

"I look for you in the pockets of my raincoat
it's late afternoon - and the fingers
of my gloves - you're gone"
- "Gone," Mary Jo Salter, The Exact Place, 1987

Birthdays are more than anniversaries, they mark a personal new year. Today is mine, and coincidentally marks the last day of summer and the first day of fall - the autumnal equinox. The sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, a point of balance in the length of days. The end of northern summers and the beginning of fall acknowledges the ebb and tide between cycles of life. As a child I always thought being born on the cusp between two seasons was somehow significant to my life: caught between the closing of one door and the opening of another, I am a soul in transition, at home in shift, guided by a restlessness I recognize marks an awareness of inner transition.

My birthday invites personal review - using the day to look back over the year, sometimes the decade itself, and take stock of my life. Have I met my goals, or diverged into unexpected but rewarding new directions? Found things I never anticipated, dealt with setbacks no one could predict? What would I like for the coming year? Do I have new goals, or need to push through to closure on old ones? Lately I have felt the subtlety of surrender: an invitation, surprise, room for luck and mystery.

This year I am thinking about my personal journey as author of THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOVE, the memoir of my marriage, and the beginning of an uncharted chapter in life - post loss, post grief, post the incandescent exposure writing a memoir brings. I am in the midst of discovering new things about myself, about the wisdom and creativity of mid life, and about the genesis of change. Second chances - broad shifts in life and life patterns - seem to begin in submerged currents, in an arrhythmia of the heart within powerful transitions. These pivots, like the balance point in the length of days, promise genuine power: a glimpse into a future we struggle to imagine but nonetheless anticipate in our most secret thoughts and desires. I think about what I have done this past year, laying the foundation for shift in both my personal life and work, and the sense I have is that the year to come will bring a surge, a sweeping flow of new experiences and challenges. A sea change.

The equinox is a place of balance on the verge of transition. Between what is and what will be: In the doorway. What more can we ask of life than to be offered the opportunity to make meaningful choices, step in directions that surprise us?

"I look for you in the pockets of my raincoat..." What a beautiful turn of phrase to echo what was, and what is now. Happy autumnal equinox, my friends.

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