So, the birthday post, albeit delayed. Having no internet at home can be a limitation! But traditions are useful, and this birthday memory is as important as the rest.
For the first time in my life, I was alone on my birthday. As in, no one to go out to town and celebrate with. Why? Because I am in a new country, new lab and new environment. Haven't been around long enough to make friends, and actually, didn't really feel enthused about gathering up a bunch of people to go celebrate. I felt quite at peace, assembling a dinner for myself, course by course and then, consuming it over 2 hours while watching "Breaking bad".
The last time I was this way was during my first few months at Stony Brook, at the start of my PhD. But the big difference was I had family across the river and communication wasn't an issue. Back then though I really missed having company of friends. I had a lot of free time and didn't know how to spend it, except watching TV, cooking and eating. I had no other interests, and was far too careful because of my economic situation. I couldn't get around because I didn't have a car and it was a while before I discovered the wonderful opportunities of the public library system.
What's changed? I think in the intervening 14 years I have learned how to spend time alone. There's internet, yes, but there is also running, yoga, meditation; of walking, for no other reason but to walk. There is reading - reading for entertainment, and reading to think either professionally or personally. There is much stronger desire to keep learning. There is also a far greater ability to accept situations and know that there is a grand plan, only you never see it till much later, if at all, and not to think or worry about the grand plan; it is better to spend time living for the moment (with check-off lists and detailed plans!). Also, the economic situation is at a point where I think I have enough for my needs. Is this the wisdom that comes with growing older?
Mindful eating BTW is a spectacular failure. I can't seem to think long enough about how the cereal tastes, chewing, and then drinking tea or coffee. My mind wanders like crazy, with the most likely topic being what work I need to get done, and if I should stop at the grocery store. I don't read anything, yet the mind is far, far away. But, got to keep at it.