I turn 50 tomorrow – although, depending upon how long it takes me to write this, I may be 50 already. (yep.. I’m officially 50)
Admission: I don’t celebrate my birthday much.
Why, you may ask?
I don’t know. Nothing deep, dark, sinister, or sad. It’s a product of my parents’ pragmatism. We just didn’t place a high value on birthdays. We didn’t devalue them per-se… You were born. You were cute. That’s cool! Now… start living!
And I’m not bummed by turning 50 – so it’s not that. I feel pretty good. I workout, I hike around, blah, blah, blah. I don’t think about my age a whole lot.
How I view my birthday
Very similar to how I view everyday – including Christmas and New Year. They’re cool! I love every day. I really do. There is nothing contrived about this and I don’t feel – at all – that I am missing out by the de-emphasis on my birthday.
I really do wake up excited 364 out of 365 days of the year. Okay… that’s a lie… I don’t know any day that I don’t wake up engaged and excited about life and the opportunity to live it. So, my birthday or New Year – etc. – is just one more great day!
Don’t analyze this – really
Over the years, people have tried to analyze why this is the case. They want to know why I am “denying myself” or something similar. Don’t break yourself on this analysis. You’ll search and prod and pry and discover that I’m okay! No… not okay, I’m great! I’m happy!
However, I am also aware that this perspective is seriously self-centered!
I’m not everyone
Important… this myopic viewpoint – while personally satisfying for me – is selfish. It causes two problems.
One, there are people who love me who would like to celebrate my birthday. I kill that for them or at least make it challenging. I don’t want a big dinner. I don’t want a bunch of birthday cards. I don’t want a party. I’m cool with a small dinner… or not. Dud! Fail! Whatever you call it, it is not cool!
I need to be gracious and allow those who wish to celebrate me to celebrate me. Yay Me!!! Weeee!
Two, it causes me to de-emphasize other people’s birthdays. This is not intentional and it has no bearing on whether I care about them and celebrate their life. But, for some (many), they want – and deserve – to be recognized for their birthday. They want celebration and dammit, they should have it!
I often overlook or forget birthdays. I don’t plan for them. I don’t get a gift ready.
Then it arrives and I’m vaguely aware that I should have done better – much better.
I’m sorry about this – to those I’ve hurt in this way. Saying it’s unintentional is the problem.
As I often say, what is not intentional is accidental.
I need to make recognizing birthdays more important to me… I need to be intentional to do so.
Furthermore, I need to be intentional about allowing people to celebrate me, too.
So… as I reflect on 50 years, I make this commitment. I will allow for the celebration of my birthday for those who love me. I’ll enjoy it! And why not… I mean, look how great I am and all that stuff.
Furthermore, I’m going to be intentional about celebrating the birthdays of others.
Starting December 11th – the day after my 50th.