Existential Birthdays


Posted on November 3, 2010 by Blake Leath

Yesterday was my beloved's birthday.  (A big one, though I probably shouldn't say anything further on that front.  Okay, I just did.)

And today is mine.

I am 364 days older than my wife and it is her life's mission to ensure I never forget this.  (Though soon enough, I am destined to forget this--and much, much more  ;-)

By their very nature, birthdays are nostalgic; they always take us back, and they inevitably bring old friends into our lives once again.  (Facebook and LinkedIn are wonderful tools that ensure we 'pop up' on busy people's radars.  We live in amazing times, agreed?)

It's been a great couple days--phones ringing, emails chirping, and lots and lots of thoughtful people singing songs into speakers half a world away.

Maybe you don't celebrate your birthday anymore, but you should.

I hit a patch several years back when I stopped celebrating mine, but then I had a good friend pull me aside and say, "Blake, not only do you rob yourself when you skip the day, but you rob all those who care about you and want to say so."

This perspective changed my tune.  After all, he's right.  There really are few 'official' opportunities that create a natural excuse to say to folks, "Hey--you mean a lot to me, and I'm glad I know you.  Have an awesome day."

Stop being miserly with your birthday, keeping it to yourself...downplaying it...or focusing on the 'dark sides' (gravity, loss, the inevitable).

Instead, think of it as a really neat excuse to throw yourself a hootenanny, nosh on some ultrarich cake, tear open handmade gifts and, most importantly--through notes, cards, letters, texts, tweets, calls, voicemails or smoke signals--allow others to say what you enjoy saying to them: "Love 'ya, am thinking of you today...and just wanted to let you know I'm glad you exist."

After all, life is super-short and there are zero guarantees about future shindigs or rodeos.

So wedge yourself into those bluejeans like Yosemite Sam and imbibe.

When asked, "What's the occasion?" tell 'em it's your birthday and to rouse up the entire restaurant, "Cuz my friends and family wanna hear a hundred strangers obnoxiously singing my praises at the top of their ever-lovin' lungs."

The day will come when you'll be glad you did.