A year in a day: Counting life in birthdays

Today is my 40th birthday, and it’s kind of hard to believe that.
It doesn’t quite sound right.
And I think that’s the way birthdays are.
It really puts a stamp on yourself with this number, a very finite number.
And I’ve talked before about how when we think of our lifespan in years, it doesn’t quite seem real.
It doesn’t quite feel like it’s something final, because a year is something so long that you know, if we can say, you know, you have 20 years this, 30 years left, or whatever, it’s really hard to get a good grasp on what that would mean.
I mean, that could be 10,000 days, 30 years.
So counting in days, on the other hand, because we can really feel and grasp what the length of a day is, then imagining our lifespan in days makes it feel shorter.
But on the other hand, it seems like a birthday is both of those things, because it’s like one day, but you feel the entire year.
So it’s like one day you get a year older.
So combining the graspable shortness of one day with the feeling of wow, this is a big chunk of my life moving by.
So you know, when young, you know, when you’re a growing child, it seems like birthdays begin as a celebration, because you are “Oh look, you survived another year, and you’re growing up and getting older, and look at this progress.” But at what point do birthdays stop being a celebration of progress and simply, you know, they they somehow morph into becoming a marker of mortality.
It becomes a question of decline.
It becomes a measure of how short life is.
And birthdays are a day to be reminded of that.
You know, this whole “age is just a number”: that’s a valid thing to say, but it’s on the birthdays that we really get that number highlighted.
Throughout most of the year, we don’t have to think about that number too much.
But right around the time of the birthday, now it’s become “This is your number.” And that number is very small and finite.
So really around birthday time seems to me when I become the most reflective, and you know, think about my overall path in life, and you know, what am I doing? And try to get myself into a good mindset to simply accept the passing of time, and it’s OK, time goes by, and I’ll just do the best I can in each year to live the best life that I can.
But sometimes I think that I’d rather not celebrate birthdays, because it simply reminds me of this, of what has ended.
It’s almost like a funeral for the year.
So am I being too dark and negative about my picture of birthdays? Or is this a common reaction? Do you also feel this way about your birthday? Now I guess another way to look at birthdays is simply as a celebration of your life, and maybe that’s the more sanguine, healthy way to look at a birthday.
It’s not about celebrating how your year ended, but simply a chance to celebrate your life.
It’s just like a holiday that comes around once a year, and it just happens to be timed with your birthday, the day of your birth, so it’s like a holiday for you, where you can celebrate your individual life.
So maybe that’s a more agreeable way to look at it.
Rather than focusing on the number and all that it means to be that number, rather it can simply be a day to celebrate the fact of your ongoing life.
So I’d be curious to hear how you feel about birthdays, and what sort of state of mind that you find is best.
And to all of you, if you’re hearing this on your birthday, happy birthday.

#birthdays #countinglife #birthday

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