Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Birth, Death, and What We Do With What is in Between

This Blog is a project of my 40th birthday. It started with an email that I sent to about 100 friends sharing, as I am prone to do, way too much information:

I haven't soul searched this much since I was 18 and brimming with existential angst and the need to individuate. Alas, with my 40th birthday around the corner I have been thinking a lot about what is important in this world. What has risen to the top for me is very unoriginal: to love and be loved, to express oneself and to encourage others to be fully expressed, to steward creativity, and to enjoy this period of embodiment as much as possible.

What didn't make it to my list is all my stuff. Oddly, that is what I seem to have the most of: baggage in all its material and spiritual and physical forms.

So there is also this thing coming up for me about making the world more like the world I want to live in. I am thinking that this should be the decade of putting whatever power I possess into the good ephemeral list above and deaccessioning some of the stuff that is weighing me down.

I'm challenging myself to do more and I'd like to invite you to help me start. Today is August 4th. One week from today, August 11, will be my 40th birthday. I would like my friends to help me in my mission by sharing a story with me about your favorite cause and why. In fact, for any donation you make to that cause between now and my birthday, I will match (up to $40) before I turn 50 -- with the caveat that I won't give money to causes that I can't get with-- but that probably wouldn't be an issue with the people I love. Just send me a return email with how much you gave and why and I'll let you know when I match it.

As the email responses came in I was sort of wowed by the depth and breadth of what my friends feel strongly about, and that so many of you give so much. Lloyd Mueller suggested I start a blog to chronicle the project and the causes people champion. He also cautioned me that some people might see this project as an effort to draw more attention to myself. I thought about what he said...some people might indeed be looking at this project that way (I've certainly drawn attention to myself in many ways over the years, turning 30 involved much more nudity for example...I digress). I really think this project is about being sick and tired of plodding along, picking up tons of garbage for myself, and wishing the world better luck next time. Suddenly the impetus to take responsibility for this life, this world, has become more urgent.

Every time one of you tells me what you are doing to make this life better I feel relief. I am grateful for the work you are doing on this earth and I feel so lucky that we are connected.

If you participated in the birthday challenge, thank you so much for giving me your story. It is exactly what I needed!

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