Friday, December 7, 2007

32 Flavors

"I'll never forget where I came from / 32 flavors and then some / I'm nobody but I am someone / 32 flavors and then some / I'm taking my chances as they come / 32 flavors and then some / Looking for truth and there is none"

Tomorrow, I will be 33 years old. It's a red letter day on the calendar; not to brag, but my birthday is kind of a big deal, especially in the Motherland. December 8 is a national holiday in the Philippines, celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Catholic tradition and officially marking the start of the Christmas season. Towns often have fiestas, complete with parades. That's right, people. PARADES. With at least one person wearing a tiara.

I learned recently that Bodhi Day is also observed on December 8. According to Mahayana tradition, Bodhi Day is the date on which Siddhartha Gautama realized and presented the Four Noble Truths to his followers. From that point on, he was simply known as the Buddha, Enlightened One. I'm a goal-oriented overachiever, but I don't think I will achieve enlightenment overnight.

I do think, however, that I'm making good on some of the personal goals I set for myself, to be achieved by the time I'm 33 years old. I started setting goals for myself on my 30th birthday; that first year, I resolved to get a book published by the time I was 31. Yeah... that worked out as well as the time Wendel and I decided to give up gossip together for Lent. [Remember that, Wen?] That was the longest 40 days EVER. Well, okay, it was actually the shortest. *ehem*

So I decided to set goals that will make me work harder at this "being a good person" gig. Sometimes being a good person means being good to myself as well as others. I've come to realize that I've relied too much on labels. There's a safety and security in putting people into categories: "You're the jackhole who pissed me off a few times in the past. Therefore, every word that comes out of your mouth must be potential dickery." But is that all they really are? Maybe they were having some off days, like we all do. Do they really deserve to be put into a box like that?

There's a safety and security in naming myself a "geeky hippie" or an "extroverted introvert", but are these things really all I am? Moreover, is my personhood limited to my actions in certain situations? Some of my co-workers have apparently decided that I am defined by my illustriously bad temper and they walk on eggshells around me. The evil part of me thinks that's sort of cool [FEAR ME, MINIONS! BWAHAHA!], but the not-evil part of me is really tired of living up to that stereotype. I can be quite a nice lady when I want to be. Really, I can.

I've been a lot of things in my 32+ years: activist, actress, dancer, daughter, editor, geek, hippie, poet, sister, tita, wife, writer. But the one thing I've never been is free. Free of the self-labeling that can really limit who I am and could be. I resolve to be more free of such labels by this time next year. I am 32 flavors and then some. Instead of a 32-scoop-tall cone, I want to be a giant swirly rainbow of taste sensations. Deeelicious!

"32 Flavors" by Alana Davis/Ani DiFranco
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