Birthdays have always been somewhat of a series of question marks and exclamation points for me. Going from the desire to celebrate it, to the desire to keep it a secret, to the hope of celebrating it, to the disillusion of the celebration as well as disappointment for wanting to celebrate in the first place.
Going each year from one perspective to another, but never really radically changing my utter surprise and bewilderment at the sole fact that I’m still here.
I would imagine that most people are not necessarily surprised on their birthday. But at the same time, maybe I’d just imagine that so that I could feel in someway special precisely because I’m feeling that way.
I always find it so delightful when you realize you can’t really be sure of anything, let alone the consistency of your own thoughts or their direction. Or maybe you can! Maybe it’s just me who isn’t sure! I guess we’ll never know for sure, will we?
Speaking about direction, it’s so easy to observe the common direction everyone is heading towards – and still so surprising to notice that the path people choose to walk to reach their destination is paved with the same old stones. It’s like everyone’s afraid to make their own paths and colour and design them to their own liking. And it’s not to blame anyone, it’s just to notice how similar we’ve all become in our quest for being unique.
Are we not all heading towards the same place? Are we not all under the same cloud of confusion regarding more or less everything that really matters?
Let me be more explicit: do you know why we’re here, what we’re doing and what’s the meaning of all this? Let me just quickly answer that for you: You don’t!
You might have everything else figured out, you might have the 5-year plan developing nicely for you, you might have built a home, a family, a future (??), you might have different beliefs which give you different hopes and ways to escape from reality, you might even have someone lovingly watching over you from the heavens. But I’ll tell you what’s the only thing that you actually have for sure and that’s the undoubtable certainty that you, just like every single one of everyone else, will eventually die.
That’s the essential thing I believe we all have in common, deeper than any fantasies we might have created in our minds.
Do we think about that though? Do we acknowledge it for everything that it is or are we just trying to escape it (however ridiculous that sounds), trying not to think about it (as if not thinking about something makes it disappear), trying to somehow distract ourselves from facing the inevitable.
We will all die. If you ask me, that’s one of the very few certainties that we have in this life. So then, if we accept that and face that, how does it affect the way we live? How do we even begin to live when it’s so certain that we’ll die anyway? Maybe the question should actually be targeting life. We’re certain that we’ll die, but do we have any certainty that we’ll live?
It’s so common nowadays to qualify and grade the level of ‘aliveness’, the degree to which life has substance and meaning for someone. But I can’t help thinking that there is substance and meaning so deep within life that regardless of your endeavors (or lack of), there will be depth to your life for the simple fact that you are experiencing it. Maybe it’s an extreme idea, especially for fans of ‘recipes for living life’, but maybe it’s not.
I keep thinking about the value of life and I seem to find no criteria to separate existence in more or less valid or valuable according with actions and contexts and at the end of the day randomness.
So then, how have we come to qualify life, how did we get to notions like ‘a wasted life’. How does that make sense? What is a wasted life? What’s the guideline, what’s the criteria to achieve that? And most importantly, who came up with it? Was it a human, crushed by the boulder of his own existential questions and facing, just like everyone else, death? And if so, then what value does his invention have? Most people just love to compare themselves with others, to breed conflict and separation, without any tangible reason, they love to give out advice that was uncalled for, to issue opinions as if they’re certainties and to grade other people according with their own system of values. Everyone does that. Maybe it’s just another mechanism devised to distract us from the inevitable.
Coming back to birthdays, I’m curious as to why they’re not called deathdays (quite obviously also because that would make them a bit too sinister to celebrate). It would be more realistically appropriate though, it would maybe give us a chance to reflect more on our existence. Not that we aren’t doing that anyway.
Everyone has mixed feelings about their birthdays but whether they’re able to admit it or not is a whole different story.
Another thing that birthdays bring is anxiety, especially if it’s a significant birthday, the kind that sends you in depression spirals, round and round through all of the past that you can still remember.
Maybe the older you get, the easier it is or maybe it’s quite the opposite.
Maybe the memories you still have will bring you joy or maybe you’ll just feel sorrow for all the memories you know for sure you’ve lost.
But the point about significant birthdays is that they seem to bring along an urgency of sorts. An instant evaluation of accomplishments, a list of failures, a sum of things that could have been different but just weren’t.
So let me get down, dirty and personal with this.
I’m turning 30 and for the past 10 years my greatest accomplishment has probably been that of growing my hair into long green dreads.
Behold, the uncanny feeling of being displaced, inappropriate but still perfectly in tune with the inappropriateness of existence.
Some people get married, have kids, some build up careers and houses, some go spiritual and look for higher meanings and purposes, some go astray and literally kill themselves while doing that, some discover, some invent, some struggle…most struggle, some think, but most don’t. As for me, I just grew my hair in long green dreads.
And the only point I want to make with this is that I believe none of these expressions of life is more or less valuable than another.
The inherent value of life is something I believe we all need to take some time to reflect on Maybe our successes and failures, our so-called accomplishments, would then be less of a reason to separate, divide and conquer each other and instead become ways to convey meaning , to enjoy each other’s expressions of life in whichever form they occur.
Happy Birthday Everyday Life! You are quite exquisite and sometimes, in some ways, I’m happy to live you!