Friday, March 29, 2013

To Birthday or Not To Birthday, That is the Question . . .

Okay, so today I ended 68 years of living on this third rock from the sun and began my 69th year. Holy Cow! It's a little hard to wrap my brain around that. But, even more difficult is realizing that I'm only two years from replacing the number 68 with the number 70. It's something I never imagined.

Often you hear someone ask a question like, "How does it feel to be (fill in the age)?" Well, as I usually reply, "about the same as I felt yesterday only with one more minor ache." In reality, I don't know if I have one more ache or not. I really don't have much in the way of aches or pains. For that I feel lucky and blessed.

Now, my brain (perhaps it's my lizard brain) is saying to me, "you're 30-something." However, my body is saying, "stop kidding yourself." What a conundrum. Which do I believe? And so goes the aging process.

So many people say they are "39" like the late comedian, Jack Benny who was 39 for decades before he finally passed away. Then there are those who simply don't want to accept their age and don't want to state a number or make believe they don't celebrate their birthdays any longer. There are jokes about being over the hill. Which hill? I've been over a lot of hills during my lifetime. Or the joke that goes, "How do you know when you're really old? When the candles for the cake cost more than the cake."

Okay, time to face up to the facts. You can lie about your age. You can make believe it isn't important. You can stop celebrating your birthdays. You can tell jokes about it. The hard fact and reality is, even with the best face lift money can buy or all the Jim Beam or single malt, 16 year old Scotch you can get plastered with, NOTHING stops the clock. Underneath it all, you really are getting older by the nanosecond.

Why fight it? I actually believe that, while there are a few . . . okay, a number . . . a bunch of negative facets of the aging process, the benefits of wisdom, slowing down, smelling more roses (and coffee), letting go of what other people think - especially about you, your corny jokes, your weird ideas and your no longer perfect (was it ever) body, this can be, should be and, if you accept it, is the best time of your life.

Birthdays should be YOUR personal holiday. Your year doesn't begin on January 1st unless you just happened to be born on January 1st. Your year begins with whatever day of the year you left the warm, comfortable surroundings of your mother's womb and began facing "your brave new world." Your birthday, whatever day of the year, month and week of the year it falls on is your most important holiday. You can forget about New Years, President's Day, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, Veterans Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the Jewish, Muslim and other religious holidays as well as Mother's Day and Father's Day. Not one of them is as important as your birthday because if you had never celebrated your day of coming into this world, you wouldn't exist and none of the myriad of other holidays mean a thing.

So, To Birthday or Not to Birthday has only one logical answer. Party Hardy in whatever way suits you. And, since it's YOUR day to do anything you want to with it - you can celebrate it on another day if it's more convenient. You can expand it to a long weekend or even a week if you choose to. Be proud of the years you've been on this Earth. Every one of them is marked with achievement and each in its own way is a badge of courage. In order to reach whatever age you are, be it 30, 50, 70 or 90 you've overcome much, accomplished much and come a long way, baby. Bask in it.

So, here I am, embarking on my 69th year on the planet. I'm older, wiser and, frankly more motivated to accomplish things on my life list because I don't know how many more sands are in my hour glass of life. I'm not fretting or concerning myself about that unknown except I know that my days future are definitely less than my days past. I'm not regretting or allowing the past to control the future. I only have right now, as I write this, to live, for sure. I can't change history, so why should I worry about it. But, I can have a whale of a great time in the future for however long that may be.

I know I'll die with unfinished business, so I'm not going to attempt to cram everything in. I'm simply going to live every moment of every day to the fullest so that as the time to take my last breath approaches, I'll have fantastic memories of a life well lived with all the scars, mistakes, loves, beauty and accomplishments. And, I hope, like George Burns, I have something spectacular planned for my 100th birthday. But, I'm in no rush to get there.

Happy Birthday to all of you who may share my personal holiday. And Happy Birthday to all of you who celebrate your personal holiday on some other day of the year. May all your wishes and dreams come true, but don't wait for them, live everyday like it's your last. 


Rob said...

It's "your" special day, #1 or #10 or #69 it's still "your" special day.
Happy Birthday!

Linda Sand said...

My age has so little to do with my daily life that it seems almost irrelevant. Except I feel freer to live it now than I did when I was young. For my birthday each year we go to my favorite steak house--the one so expensive you have to have a "reason" for going there. :)

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Exactly, Rob - and I enjoyed my thoroughly. I hope you practice celebrating your "special" day fully, too.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Age shouldn't have anything to do with our "special, personal holiday." The disconcerting point is that too many of us don't learn about being free (some, unfortunately never do) until we have allowed so many years to lapse. Being taught about personal freedom and celebrating our own unique lives should be taught from infancy. But, since so many parents aren't truly free, they can't be advocates for it.