Time Defeated by Hope and Beauty

CelebrationIt was my birthday earlier this week – I turned 37 – and while I don’t really begrudge the start of grey hairs, wrinkles and extra pounds, I do resent the contributing factors. 2012 was a hard year. I’m tired. Every year on my birthday I set a theme for the year and try to pick goals from my life list that match it. This year won’t have any epic travels or key milestones checked off but if all goes well we’ll have a new country, a new city, a new home, new jobs for both of us, a new dog and some new friends. That’s enough.

It’s going to be busy; we’re getting a dog and moving to Seattle. Jenn and Jordan are getting married, I’ll be travelling to Port Hardy and California for diving, I’m working on a new art project, will probably start grad school in the fall and already have some exciting ideas about What’s Next. Additionally, I’ll be working on building personal strength through vulnerability, building physical strength by getting back into shape and re-defining what success means to me.

Time Defeated by Hope and Beauty is a painting by Simon Vouet that caught my eye in the Prado last year (it also appears to have a different translation in the online catalog) because I like the idea. Living an unfulfilled life has always been my greatest fear and now that my grandmother is deteriorating so quickly in her care home, it’s become a regular reminder to approach everything wholeheartedly and live life to the fullest. This month alone has been full of some incredible adventures.

Keeping busy is not time defeated by hope and beauty though – it’s time flattened by my usual means of filling it full to the brim with exciting things so that sometimes it feels as though I’m living 6 lives instead of 1. I’ve just finished Brené Brown‘s book, “Daring Greatly” after being enthralled with her TED talk on the power of vulnerability and I will probably write more about that after I sit with it for a while but one thing that she wrote that resonated with me is that, “Hope is a function of struggle.” People who have experienced adversity are more likely to have high levels of hopefulness and so it’s not just for style that Vouet’s Hope is brandishing a weapon in his painting. It also speaks to the process – of letting go, of being grateful for what you have, of learning to be joyful. The hope I feel like I have always had in spades and the beauty is something I’m always working on; to live my life with my whole heart, to be open and connect with people, to be grateful for all the moments and not just the exciting ones.

Along with all of the busyness, I’ve been gifted a lot of time. Unexpected, unstructured time of the sort that spins me right into a panic but my theme for this year is to take that and turn it into something beautiful for what it is, not for the amount of things I can fit in it. Bear with me, I’m not good at this, and if I see a cheap enough flight to Africa I’m not saying I won’t get on it, but I’m trying. It’s a process. While I was shopping for cards the other day I saw one that resonated in amongst all the self-depricating ageist ones. It said, “Some people call them decades. I prefer to call them my life’s work.”

I forgot to take a picture of myself on my birthday but here is one that my friend Cyndi took of me with Matt and Stacie. We are in one of my favourite cocktail bars surrounded by friends while in the background one of my favourite bartenders is whipping up a delicious custom cocktail that he created for my birthday. Take that, Time.

8 Replies to “Time Defeated by Hope and Beauty”

  1. I found your blog through a Mark Busse tweet.

    Beautiful post. And I too (like so many others) have been sooo inspired by Daring Greatly and Brene’s TEDtalk. Being vulnerable. Putting ourselves out there. Taking some real risks. Being true to our passions and beliefs.

    It all goes by so quickly – do we really have any other choice?

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sandra. I’m still chewing on a lot of it but yeah – it’s the most important thing.

  2. I have tears in my eyes. This is beautiful and eloquent and heartfelt and daring and brave.
    Your life’s work is glorious. You are one of the most unique and wonderful souls I have had the good fortune to have in my life.
    Happy birthday, may every day be full of wonder.
    x

  3. Beautiful and inspiring post, Degan. What a fantastic year you have in front of you. Busy and possibly challenging but exciting and so much to look towards. How wonderful! And selfishly, I’m happy to have a trusted source for Seattle eats and drinks now. 🙂

  4. Was just at the Prado museum…boy was that a long slow walk! And out of everything in there-that painting too,was the only one that caught my eye. I turned 30 on April 15 and coincidentally my flight to Spain was on the same date. With a new decade started I can relate to everything you’re saying Degan.

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