Happy Birthday to Me.
I love my birthday. But, as with everything, I have a lot of contradictory thoughts that go along with the celebration of my day-of-birth, life, and aging.
1) I want everyone to acknowledge it’s my birthday through text messages, Facebook posts, phone calls, cards, gifts, etc. But, I don’t want to talk to or respond to anyone on my birthday.
For my birthday, I really just prefer to go dark. I don’t want to check and respond to messages because I do that every other day of the year, but I’d feel completely unappreciated if the messages didn’t come. I spend much of the day being anxious about not responding immediately to those thoughtful messages because I’m incredibly appreciative of your taking time out of your day to wish me a happy birthday. But, I don’t actually want to communicate with you until tomorrow. I don’t know what this makes me, but I only want to see and talk to my immediate family and people and dogs who live in my house on my birthday.
2) I don’t want to work on my birthday.
I work plenty of other days during the year.
3) I’ve never told you this before, Internet, but my grandma died on my birthday.
Yep, that happened. And, what’s super strange is that it brings me no sadness that her death is associated with my birthday now. I mean, it did, and I feel completely weird about asking my mother to celebrate the birth of her first-born daughter on the same day as she mourns the death of her mother. But, my grandmother loved her grandchildren. She had 28 of them, and I was her first. It only made sense that she chose the day of the year on which her first grandchild appeared on Earth to go ahead and leave us. But, rest assured, it’s not an event with which I thought I’d share my birthday.
4) I love my age.
So, sometimes, I judge people (usually women) who choose not to share their age. I am so stinkin’ ok with whatever age that I am that I want everyone to know what age that is. Now, this comes from two places. First, I’ve looked young for most of my life. And, I want people to know that I have as much life experience as I have – now, 39 years of it. Not more, not less. Also, I actually WAS the younger person growing up. Most people in my high school graduating class were older than me, so I guess I never felt “old enough.”
Of course, there are some terrible struggles with ageism out there particularly impacting women, and I’m guessing there’s lots of good reason to hide one’s age. But, I’ve felt strongly about sharing my age for much of my life. Then, I saw a documentary with a woman in it who experienced a stroke or some kind of medical issue. The issue actually caused one side of her face to essentially freeze from aging. And, you know what? She hated that youthful side. She loved her aged side because she felt like she earned those wrinkles, that lack of collagen, the slight drooping, but the other side of her face showed a “youthfulness” that wasn’t real for her.
5) Aging is the goal.
When some people go on about how they are getting older, I’ve been known to say, “It’s better than the alternative!” Because let’s face it, we get two options here on Earth. Age or don’t. For those of you playing along, “don’t” is a euphemism for dead. I don’t care to be dead yet, so every birthday I have tells me that I’m still alive. That’s good.
6) But, wouldn’t you rather be younger again?
No. Well…. no. I mean, things were pretty great in seventh grade. Like, that was a year I look back towards with some fun memories. And, I almost said, “And, I was in less pain.” But, folks, I drew the short straw on pain in this life. I’m acutely aware that some people drew way shorter pain straws than me, but since about the fourth grade, I’ve been dealing with some type of physical pain. Yep, it seems to get worse every year (which is crap), but it’s always been there in some form or fashion. Some types have improved over the years. Some types have worsened. And, sometimes, my right knee hurts when I move my foot from the gas pedal to the break pedal. I’ve joked for many years that God went to the spare parts room when he built me, and I guess that’s just the deal I got.
7) Time Moves Pretty Fast.
I have a few sayings that help me get through the whole “limited time on Earth” thing. Somedays, they help. Other days, I’m not so well-adjusted. First, “a minute is 60 seconds now and 30 years ago.” I try to remind myself that a minute has and always will be 60 seconds. Even when minutes feel like they are speeding by more quickly, I get comfort from thinking about how they are not. Some scientist will probably tell me this is incorrect.
“Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. So, ‘ya might as well be having fun.” I am terrible at this one. I am currently trying to figure out what will be a more “fun” life for me. But, again, under the theory that a minute is 60 seconds no matter when it happens, fun is better than miserable.
Oh, and The Byrds. “To everything... turn, turn, turn. There is a season… turn, turn, turn.” Or, the Bible. Whatever. But, for me, it was The Byrds. I believe so strongly in the seasons of life that I’d be utterly hypocritical if I didn’t accept aging and death as a season of it.
8) Some Die Just to Live.
Gosh, as I write this, I think, “My golly, I have a healthy outlook on life and death.” And, yet, the fear of death grips me so tightly (not just my own, that of many others) that it likely is the impetus for almost all of my anxiety. Well, not throwing-up in public. That wasn’t literally going to kill me. It was just going to embarrass me so badly I would want to die.
Pearl Jam has a lyric in its song, “Immortality,” that has stuck with me since I heard it. “Some die just to live.” I have absolutely no idea what was meant by it. But, I heard it as follows… Death isn’t typically fun or easy or even painless. But, most people are absolutely willing to die in order to live. I guess that’s odd ‘cause most of us don’t ask our parents to conceive us. But, once we’re here, we typically think, “This livin’ thing is pretty ok!” Like, even when it sucks a lot (and of course, barring severe depression), most of us really prefer being alive as opposed to being dead.
So, here’s to 39! I’ll thank you for your birthday wishes tomorrow.
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