I’ve been stewing about this post for some time, honestly. In the end, it borders on being saccharine sweet, but it’s my birthday, dammit. I’ll be saccharine sweet on my birthday. I’m 32 today. People sometimes raise an eyebrow when I freely mention how old I am. If a student asks me my age, I’ll comment, “Now that’s not the most polite question, is it?” Then I’ll pause and let that sink in and then say, “Luckily for you, I don’t care. I’m ….”
The thing is, I really don’t care. I don’t understand how people can be ashamed of their age. This may sound corny, but I’m thankful for every year I can own. I know so many who cannot make the same claims. My dad died unexpectedly a few days after he turned 50. And today, I cannot help but think of those who are no longer with me, especially those who never had the chance to be ashamed of being 32: my friend from my grandmother’s church who was shot by another girl, my four year old cousin who died of Leigh disease, my friend from high school who died of a strange heart attack in his 20’s. I also think of friends’ brothers and daughters who died all too soon. And I also think of others who were 32 once and would smile today at the memory of that age.
You might think this is a strange and morbid way to start a birthday, but if you’re living life right, then everyday is a sort of rebirth. Everyday is a new chance to do something wonderful and create a new memory. I haven’t waited until today to be thankful for my time on this earth, however sad and gripping it might be at times.
Ever since I was on maternity leave with my daughter, I noticed a trend online. People were constantly saying, “I can’t wait until…” or “Hurry up and get here….” The other thing I noticed was that it was never the same date. We, all of us, are putting the present on hold in anticipation of something greater that is ahead. All I wanted was to milk each day of my maternity leave with my newborn daughter. So I made a vow. I would stop using those phrases at all. It felt like people were trying to rush time and ignoring the present in doing so. So I’ll say something like, “I’m excited about…”, but I’ve stopped ignoring present as best I can. It’s far too precious a commodity to be squandered by whiling away the time hoping the future will come faster.
So here’s my birthday gift to you all. Slow down. Ban the phrases “I can’t wait until” and “Hurry up and get here Friday/Saturday.” All you’re doing is ignoring one precious day that, somewhere around the world, another person would gladly take if he/she could, a day that someone else didn’t get, a day that could change your life if you only slowed down and paid attention to what’s going on around you. Look today in the eye and see what it has to offer.
PS – Happy Birthday to my birthday buddy, Alexandre Dumas!