Thirty-one definitions of self and none are it. Thirty-one emotions all at once and all of them are it. Thirty-one years float and crash, only to be swallowed back into the ocean of everything I think that I am and everything I will never be again.

The depth of this life that I am living both baffles and petrifies me. There is no way out of this experience without faith and fate. It only asks me to trust, and that is the root of it all. The thing that liberates me is the same thing that has held me captive; an incapacity to trust. A detriment I have created early on, the original shell from a harsh and terrifying, and uncertain world. I am being asked to gently peel it off my skin.

Thirty-one tests show again and again that there is something watching over me. I never believed in this BS, I never even trusted myself. But, at this point, I stand corrected with sheer beauty and grace. To trust and show life my naked skin un-protected and vulnerable, allowing a level of contact I had never given permission before.

It could be my mother’s prayers, or maybe it is the tears that my grandfather sheds when he speaks about the person I am. Or is it that I never forgot that underneath all the armor I wear is a gentle soul that wants to nourish and be nourished. Perhaps it is that constant knowing that I have carried that saved me from ruin.

This is not a reflection on how much life and people are capable of ruin, but rather a reminder of the opposite. I write to celebrate thirty-one meetings with fate, where I am continually impressed and thrown off the course I imagine for myself.

This is a contact dance with change. It is a folding and unfolding of my hopes, dreams, and expectations.

I play with change like you play with a wild wave. You don’t. You observe the wave in its majesty. Then you calculate how close you must be when it hits, and how wet and humbled you’re willing to get.

So I hold on to myself for the first time in my life. I hold on to my dear little heart and we walk the path gently, between expectations, fears, and fate. I know that if I soar or if I fall, it will be alright.

And so in recognizing my soft skin, I recognize the mercy I have been shown. There is something within that becomes unleashed and wild; an inner reflection of the temporariness of it all.

And so I pause on this path and look back at 31 thousand memories and experiences I have had. I look to my side and the most powerful 5-year-old that has ever walked this path looks back at me covered in her armor. Little champion walks shielded from a terrifying world, covered head to toe, but her eyes peek out and she asks me if it’s safe now. I nod back, it is safe, I am here now, and we have people who love and support us unconditionally. A beautiful little girl emerges from under that armor with the brightest smile I’ve ever seen, and off she runs; leaving all the debris behind. I step over the crumbs of love I have outgrown, and the broken words and promises of others I have chosen to leave behind.

One foot in front of the other, a single step at a time, thirty-one years of trial and error to get here.

It is safe now, on to the next adventure.

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