Today is my 44th birthday.
A few weeks ago, in a conversation with a mentor about my upcoming birthday, I said the number out loud for the first time. As I spoke it, the Chinese implication of the number came to me.
Numbers have different symbolism in different cultures. I’m not Chinese. I don’t know why the Chinese symbolism came to me. In theory, in rationality, it’s not relevant to me.
Except it is, because it came up.
I work with what comes up; not with what should, rationally, come up.
I trust that it came up for a reason.
I live life in practice, not theory.
44 = Double Death
The Chinese consider the number 4 unlucky because the word for “four” is nearly homophonous to the word for “death.”
4 = death.
44 = double death.
My immediate reaction was,
I don’t even want to think about that.
My mentor offered,
Maybe you can view it as a necessary death to what needs to die as part of your rebirth.
Of course. It’s so obvious.
Exactly the reframe I would have offered.
Death to Rebirth
It’s a constant theme in life:
Destroy to create.
Death to rebirth.
The clearing for what is to emerge.
All creation emerges from destruction. Whether it’s a work of art or a company or a life.
And, if you think about it, isn’t a life really just a work of art and a form of company, all rolled into one?
We get to decide what we want to create, what our offering is to the world.
Death 1: Habits
This has been my journey. Well, to be clear, this is always the journey. But it has been my journey most intensely over the past year.
There were the physical things, of course, including my home.
And the other pieces that make up who we are. Collectively, I’ll call them habits.
I’ve gone all-in to kill off every facet of what no longer serves me.
Mindsets. Fears. Beliefs. Expectations. Ways of being, leading, and doing.
Most recently, embarking on the path to change how I move my body. Breaking old patterns of movement and learning to breathe and move with the correct muscles.
With each new adventure, I continue to strip away layers that stand in the way of my living in my truth.
Death 2: Identity
If you want to make a change last, you can’t just change your habits, mindsets, beliefs, and stories.
Lasting change only emerges from a change in identity.
Seeing yourself in a new light. Adopting a new form of being.
To take on a new identity, other identities within me must die.
Birthdays. A day for birth.
Unlike when we first emerge from the womb, rebirth isn’t instant. It’s not a clearly defined linear event: one moment you’re not born, the next you’re alive.
Rebirth is a process of continual refinement.
We are always in a state of becoming, and in a state of unbecoming.
Birthdays are the milestone markers, the days that come with an invitation to consider:
Who am I becoming and who am I unbecoming?
Transforming Double Death Into Blessing
Another friend offered the practice of numerology, in which a double-digit number is reduced to a single digit by adding the two numbers.
4 + 4 = 8
If I’m going to look to Chinese culture for the symbolism of the 4, it seems only fair to look to it for the symbolism of 8.
The Chinese consider eight a lucky number. The number eight sounds like the word that means “to prosper.”
Eight is a symbol of prosperity and abundance.
By killing off all that no longer serves me, all that is no longer aligned with who I am and who I am becoming, I clear the path to prosperity.
This is how I choose to embrace 44.