Dibuix de Leo John Hevelius of 1690

Dibuix de Leo

I have a birthday fast approaching. Only days away. Which gets me thinking about how I got here. How I arrived at being the person I am today, i.e., thinking about what goes into each one of us. Not biologically or DNA-wise, but what shapes us as social, good human beings. What makes us who we are, in that, how do each one of us relate to the world, how do each one of us respond to challenge, how do each one of us face our fears, how do we approach others’ suffering, or our own, how do we show our love for others?

I had a short conversation at work today about the uniqueness of people, a concept I, personally, don’t believe in—not worth fully discussing right now, but I have met far too many people over the years who ask me, and I know this happens to us all, “Are you related to so and so? You remind me so much of bla, bla, bla.” Your laugh, your tone of voice, your personality, the way you tell a story, your demeanor, the way you walk, you always remind someone of someone they know or have met once, you like the same kind of music, drive an identical car, have a similar upbringing, tell a familiar joke, dress with a style that resembles someone else’s—and what makes us individual and different from each other, move in a purposeful manner every day, which I do believe is possible. Again, can’t, or won’t, go into what I believe to be the difference in meaning of unique versus individual; it’s a conversation for another time.

But, yes, the upcoming birthday. And just like everyone else, so much has shaped who I am. My choices in high school to remain above the silliness, my conclusion that exercising my heart at an early age would have far reaching implications before I even understood what a far reaching implication was, my selection of university, my decision to move to Colorado from Pennsylvania, my years as a backcountry field instructor working with adjudicated youth, my resolve to pursue grad school—a decision that uprooted my entire life and existence—my conclusion to drop out of grad school to follow a different path, one just as conventional, yet more direct to achieving what I originally set out for, my decision to say yes to the date that, in my mind, should never happen but was so worth shutting off the thoughts, or, at the very least, quieting the chatter, the concerns, the no ways, and listening to my intuition which hinted that I take a chance. My pronouncement to begin practicing yoga in the face of agony and heartbreak rather than turning to some other form of therapy or distraction. Of course, there are a hundred, maybe even a thousand, more decisions that shaped the person I am, a person on the verge of an only slightly significant birthday (but aren’t they all really, once you hit a certain age?). Some are big, most of the ones above felt fairly large, at least at the time I was mulling them around, kicking them about, agonizing over them and putting them into motion, and some are small, like going blonde before a trip to Vegas—a decision that had far larger repercussions than changing hair color might typically bring.

So, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a Leo, ego flourishes in my house of the sun…I’m never afraid to admit…