It isn’t often in our mortal lives that we get a chance to hear what people really think about us, to be lifted above the day-to-day, greeting card words that some of us (namely, me) question in the brutal light of day.  It seems there is a tradition in Rugby of honoring someone special with a “Rave” – my daughter-in-law described it this way…

“ruggers are very in tune to the negativity in the world because often we are the outcasts of the sports world (in America).  We know first-hand that it is far too easy to focus on all that bad energy and all the bad thoughts of the society surrounding us, and that we needed something to offset all the bad juju.  So the tradition of doing a Rave to signify the importance of an individual or event was born.  Instead of ranting, we … spew forth anything and everything positive and inspiring about that person to as many people as are willing to listen.”

For my 50th birthday, my family gifted me with a Rave (Jul 2 – but celebrated last night).  There were other beautiful gifts – a lovely dinner, shopping cards, an amazing martini glass – but the Rave is the one I will hold in my heart for always.  You see, turning 50 is sort of strange and tragic and wonderful all at the same time.  It’s strange because in my heart I don’t feel a day over 30 (until I look in the mirror and see that 30 was a considerable while ago).  It’s tragic because I find myself looking back at all the things I never did (see Machu Pichu, sip wine in a real French bistro, sing in a smokey bar) and I can’t really avoid the fact that the prime time for me to do some of these things is starting to slip away.  At the same time, it’s a little wonderful because I’m suddenly compelled to review all that I’ve learned and experienced in my life, all that’s shaped me into the person I am today, and I’m realizing (at last) that I actually kind of LIKE me!

The part that’s most amazing of all, the part that became apparent to me last night, is that all those years I spent wishing I could make everyone love me enough to compensate for how much I despised myself… well, those years were somehow incubating the person I am right now.  A person who is suddenly aware of the positive impact she’s had on the world around her, a person who never knew, never dared to dream it was possible that she was exactly the way she was MEANT to be.  The weirdest thing of all is, now that I’m finally starting to sense my own gentle sparkle, people are coming out of the woodwork to help me polish and shine – to reflect my own light right back to me, as though I was somehow shining all along.

One day last week, a guy pulled out in front of me so suddenly I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him.  I pounded the palm of my hand against the steering wheel as if it were his face and I screamed, so loudly my throat hurt a little later, “SEE ME, DAMMIT… why can’t you just SEE me!?”  And I almost have to laugh when I say this – I wasn’t talking to him, I was talking to myself (literally AND figuratively).  I’ve spent so much time waiting and hoping for the world to see me, when all along it was really just me who needed to look at myself with some compassion and trust and appreciation.

It takes something like a Rave to see this – a light shining so brightly that you cannot turn away – lighting every crevice and going on and on around the table until the light’s shining right out of you and back to these people who love you so much, love you enough to give you this gift of yourself.

You can never go back after this – it is an irreversible transformation.