Happy Birthday

On the significance of birthdays

Ever since I can remember I have loved celebrating birthdays. The quiet sulking of apparent old age was not for me. Instead, I would start planning my birthday (which is this month) in May. It used to drive my mother round the bend. She forbade me to start planning anything sooner than July. I ignored her of course. You can never start planning your birthday celebrations too early.

But this year the birthday doldrums made an appearance. They snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking and leapt in front of me with their anti-birthday signboards. I’m turning 40 in three weeks and somehow I’ve managed to avoid all planning and thoughts of celebrations since May. You can imagine my mother’s surprise when I said there was no party. I blamed it on being overworked and tired, as one does. The truth it that for the first time I’m taking a look at what I’ve done with my time so far and I can’t help but feel that I should have crammed more into it. I’m not sure where exactly but the feeling remains. Perhaps the older one gets the more one is aware of how fleeting life is. Perhaps I’m just having a pity party.

I don’t feel much older than 20 most days. When I look down at my feet it seems like nothing has changed. However, when I look in the mirror a lifetime gazes back. It’s hard to ignore how vulnerable we are to the passage of time. I phoned my Aunt for her birthday on Saturday and she set me straight. Never mess with Aunts – they don’t put up with silliness. She informed me that after 40 you only have a birthday once every decade because you won’t notice how quickly life rushes by, so best throw out the pity party and invite some friends over. She has a point. Birthdays remind us that we are alive and kicking and if that isn’t worthwhile celebrating, I don’t know what is.

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