Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Power of 7

I am reading "The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman" by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston; it tells the story of a Japanese woman who immigrates to San Francisco in 1902, and 40 years later ends up in a Japanese internment camp in Manzanar, Calfornia, with her daughter and granddaughters. It's a good story but really the reason I'm posting about it is just a brief paragraph towards the end that really touched me. Sayo writes home to her mentor to ask the meaning of one of her dreams. The number seven is prominent in the dream and the mentor replies that seven is auspicious, symbolizing birth and death, not literally, but in the sense that life comes in cycles of 7. The transitions between cycles of 7 years can be very challenging and powerful.

I sat up straight in bed because I was having one of those "Ah-HAH!" moments. Lately Julie has been quite a moody creature, to the point where I wonder if she's seven years old or sixteen. Prone to easy tears, snapping at her father, inconsolable by me, takes everything personally, life is out to get her, DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. But after reading this part of the book, it hit me - she's SEVEN! She just turned seven, finishing a cycle of her life, and now she's transitioning into the next cycle...it's a fragile time and this behavior is to be expected.

OK, so maybe this theory wouldn't be published in the journals of psychology, but did you ever reach a rationalization and it just felt right? I felt a very strong sense of relief. I can work with this.

I thought more about it, and tried to remember when I was 7 going on 8, 14-15, 21, etc....And wow, I can sure remember my 15th birthday, freshman year of high school. My friend Hayley brought a cake to school and after sharing it at lunch time in the band room, I brought the rest to the cafeteria to share with whoever was there. And sitting at the "Senior table" was Adam Gross, one half of the popular Gross twins; I doubted he knew I was alive. "Hey, Happy Birthday, Suanne!" he called out and several other seniors chimed in. Everyone took some cake. I remember feeling recognized socially,
starting to feel attractive to boys, and in general feeling poised on the edge of possibilities.

21, hell, 21 is the age of legality, it's a huge year. JP and I began dating when we were 25, dated three years and then broke up. After 6 months we reconciled and began to pick apart our relationship, our idea of relationships, our vision of a shared future. It was a very intense process of brutally honest self-reflection. How old were we? 28.

After AJ was born, I went into a severe depression and in therapy, picked apart huge aspects of my life. I was 35.

So now that I have just turned 40....I'm wondering if 40 is not rite of passage we think it is. Rather, focus on your 42nd birthday. That'll be a big year.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Loved what you wrote. Biblically, 7 represents perfection. I started going through my own life by seven year intervals and thinking about those turning points and epiphanies. It makes sense in my life and my kids' lives too. My oldest is now 14 and it feels like she's arrived at an interesting turning point where she's more willing to take risks and grow. Thanks for taking the pressure off turning 40! Now I can aim for 42. Loved the anecdote about Adam Gross...and you know why.