…This time take the scenic route…
It’s that time again. I recognize that a year has gone by, and perspective turns retrospective. I look around and realize that I’ve not accomplished much.
I always approach the natal anniversary time with dread and regret. I know that is probably silly and not terribly helpful or healthy, but it’s accurate. I just don’t like my birthday. Never have. It might be something subconsciously observed (like always having flags at half-mast in honor of… being born on the day that will “live in infamy” has a tendency to do that). It might also be that my birthday has never really seemed to be about me. It’s always been about other things, other people… the fact that I was born (lo, the many years ago) was always a bit of an afterthought or at best used by others to garner attention for themselves… sometimes well-deserved. Other times… maybe not so much, but there it is. It always got lost in the midst of other rememberance or exam weeks or general holiday festivities.
I think it may have upset a younger me at times. I was always so envious of those classmates that had summertime birthdays. There were pool parties and picnics or beach cookouts, things and events that peers and friends looked forward to in the doldrums of summer indolence. But, in truth, the envy and regret didn’t really take sufficient hold to become psychopathy or anything… (oooh, but now I have ideas for a mystery thriller with a birthday fixation… meh, it’s probably been done, and I’m getting off track).
One year for my birthday, I was actually given a book. Beth’s Happy Day. Coincidentally, it was about a girl… with my name… who was having a “special day.” The book followed Beth around all day while she did things for other people. Eventually, at the end of her day, she goes home to find all the people (mostly adults, mind you) she had assisted throughout the day in her back yard for a party… yep, you guessed, birthday party for Beth. Not a bad story, but the message was clear about birthdays and altruism. I think it may have also highlighted the “normalcy” of having a child’s birthday filled and attended predominantly by their elders, parents, grandparents, and other adults instead of age-group peers and other children.
And really, not so bad a message. This year, I’ve seen a number of people choose to use their birthday to rally funds for various causes, charities, etc.; which I think is a really nice way to honor someone’s “Happy Day”.
For the past few decades, I’ve actually consciously elected to hide my birthday. I tried to focus and distract folks on other things, tests, projects, other observances. I have left town, used the time to avoid people but maybe get other things done. With social media, there is generally a reminder that prevents complete ignorance of the day (I could, of course, have turned that bit private, but I totally forgot), and that, perhaps, was not such a bad thing. It was nice to see friends and family well-wishes. With thoughts giving energy, perhaps it will add fuel to make the next trip round the sun a more productive trip.
So, the inventory and reflection time has given me some perspective. I can honestly say that 2018 was better in many ways (for me as an individual) than the previous year. Perhaps the next trip will continue the trend. I sincerely hope that I can, at least, contribute positively to my own experience as well as that of those around me. With that said, let’s take it one more time around, Jeeves…