You reach that certain age when birthdays have ceased to be an issue.
This is one day when everybody goes out of his way to be extra nice to you. Once upon a time there were only a handful of people (like family, friends and colleagues) who knows the exact date of your natal day. But then, thanks to Facebook, your birthday will be as big as the number of friends you have approved and allowed to gain access to such delicate information.
So today is my birthday and if anyone asks me how I decided to spend it, I will tell them that the day has been categorized into three specific activities:
(a) Replying to a stream of text messages from friends with all sorts of birthday greetings ranging from the pre-cut-and-paste “Happy birthday to you” (worst HBD for katamaran’s sakes!) to the more exotic forms of greetings which include chimpanzees and other mammals — to the very serious Bible quotations talking about each candle added on your cake means that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Guys, I don’t read canned text message and I don’t reply back to say thanks.
(b) Replying to an even larger barrage of Wall Posts on my FB Timeline. Lesson #1: If you have more than one thousand friends, prepare to dedicate a significant amount of the day giving short but sweet replies to each birthday greeting … or eventually learning the shortcut of pressing the LIKE button underneath each message just to get some semblance of gratitude back to the sender.
The thing about Facebook is that it goes on forever. The messages started coming in at 8AM … and as midnight approaches you feel that the number will diminish. That is, until you realize that as a specific date ends in this time zone, the day still has an extension on the other side of the world. This only means that you have to learn Lesson #2: Birthdays in social networks last a day and a half. The messages will diminish but they will come trickling it … until noon of the following day … not to mention the “belated” greetings.
(c) Forgetting about watching what you eat because you are literally swamped by cakes and all sorts of foods. Considering the amount of time spent in the gym, birthdays are such waistline busters considering how cakes seem to naturally flow right into your territory. Now if you only lose ten pounds each time you blow candles after a chorus of “Happy birthdays”, then that would be fine. Today, I’m back to 158lbs and I dreaded my body.
Birthdays remind you that your metabolism has slowed down by another number of percentage. Birthdays also remind you that ageing is the process of cellular deterioration as well as the revenge of gravity when skin starts to go south. Birthdays remind you that you cannot buy elasticin to remove the jowls, the crow’s feet and the laugh lines. Include the double chin, the liver spots and the eye bugs.
Birthdays also remind you that even if you spend an impressive number of hours in the gym, you reach that certain age that you can no longer have the body of a 20 year old … even with surgery. So accepting that, birthdays should not be all that threatening. It is a matter of embracing the age and realizing that indeed your birthday should be happy not because everybody tells you it should be so … but because it truly is. What other reason is there to celebrate in life than to realize that you have lived through another year … and there are even more years to come to live through more journeys?
And what about those text messages and Facebook postings?
Be thankful. Be grateful. Yeah, yeah, yeah …you cannot measure the value of your life by the number of birthday greetings you receive. Let us go into that whole quality versus quantity bit. But damn it … it still feels so good. It doesn’t only feel good … but it feels great when so many people remember you on that single day of the year that you can honestly call your own. Regardless of how you tend to pooh-pooh the situation, it feels great to be validated.
Having a birthday in itself — is a celebration. And, as Jim Paredes said via Twitter, “Have the best rest of your life.” That is really what birthdays are really all about. It is deciding that you will have the best of the rest of your days … making sure that you matter in this present earthly form.
Birthdays remind you of mortality: you decide on how you intend to be immortal by the sheer power of how you are living your life. And that happens every day.
OK, for those who asked — I just turned 32 today. And I am proud of it.