When we celebrate a birthday, are we celebrating new life and rebirth, or are we celebrating that we are one year closer to death?
It’s not that one is right, and the other wrong. But it is an area worthy of speculation because there’s an opportunity to create what you want, instead of kowtowing to societal norms.
In terms of celebrating new life and rebirth, it has long been understood that age is but a number. Everyone’s journey is unique, and there are no “milestones.” You can’t guarantee marriage by 18, kids by 25, a house with a white picket fence by 27, a golden retriever named Charlie by 28, and an executive level position by 30. It doesn’t work that way. Most journeys are wandering and circuitous.
40 isn’t any more significant than 30, and 30 isn’t any more significant than 20. It only is if we make it so. It has everything to do with how we create it. Not to mention, it’s not about how long you’ve lived – it’s about how much living you’ve put into your life.
So, another year is just another year. Look closely, and you will see that you don’t know your beginning any more than you know your end. Which can only mean the present is infinite. It has to be.
When you were born, you were celebrated. Not by all, but by some. Why should that change just because you’re turning a new number? Couldn’t you celebrate the monumental event that was your birth?
In terms of celebrating being one year closer to death, this is our default way of celebrating birthdays. Even well wishes are often thinly veiled “I just hope you acknowledge my birthday next time,” “I’m not going to give you a gift, so here’s a shoutout on social media,” or worse, “I don’t like you and I wish you would die.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s post. There’s a clear contrast between the clean, filtered version of ourselves we present to society, and the real, down and dirty judgment we cast onto others and hold as truth (which is really just our perspective).
Look, this isn’t necessarily wrong. We don’t always celebrate death in North America (sometimes we do), but in other cultures they celebrate the transition. Yes, the “transition” is ambiguous and unknowable (often driven by what has been perpetuated by holy texts and scriptures), but it can be quite beautiful, especially if you create it as such.
Celebrating death can also be empowering in that there are things we wish to shed and transmute. Heartache, pain, difficulty, challenge, problems, trauma, and more. What if you took your birthday to let go and allow all that is? What if you made it your mission to stop resurfacing familiar pains and stories about yourself and what they meant, and instead created a new possibility, and a new world for yourself when your birthday arrived?
I’m not necessarily presenting solutions. But I’m asking. Which type of birthday do you want? What does a birthday really mean? Is it as consequential and monumental as we make it out to be? Or is it just a part of this thing we call life? And would we enjoy ourselves more if we just thought of ourselves as ourselves, not as a number?
You are. That’s all there is. Everything else is just made up.