Birthdays. At a certain age, they go from the childhood excitement of cakes, gifts, and parties, to the years of thinking you’re getting old because you’re turning 30 or 40 (but, it’s just a number then), to the years where you get an annual reminder that you won’t be here forever. My birthdays are like that now. Bittersweet. They bring to mind both the impermanence of everything, including myself, along with deep gratitude for the gift of being here and living this life. Here…in this lovely, beautiful, aching, longing, joyous learning experience we call life.
I love my life, in all its imperfections, and, yet, it is that love of life that makes these birthday reminders so bittersweet. Truth is, I don’t ever want to leave. I don’t think I will want to leave when I am 105 or 120, either. Maybe I’ll change my mind down the road but that is how I have felt for many years and still do today. When my son was little, he once asked me to live a really, really long time…over 100. I told him that I would shoot for 105. He immediately replied, No…120. We talked about how none of us can say for sure when we will go; however, with the way technology is speeding along, anything is possible by then. Who knows…In a few years, people who are 100 years old might just order new organs from a corner store down the block. Those items might be installed in our bodies by a machine, and we walk out repaired and fine, in less than ten minutes…Simply open, replace, close. If that sounds strange, just think back (and not that long ago), how most everything that we thought was impossible has not only become possible, but is now an everyday, no-big-deal, part of our lives. Nothing is impossible anymore.
Regardless of the length of time we are privileged to be here, I would simply like to offer, in the spirit of love, life, birthdays, and impermanence, that we all keep trying to be more present to the moments given to us and to the people who cross our paths. May we let others know that they are valued, that they are worth acknowledging. Not just our families and friends, but all others sharing the planet with us. We all like to know that our existence here matters. It doesn’t take a lot to give that gift to others. Sometimes, a simple exchange of eye contact, a smile, and a ‘hello’ can make a tremendous difference in the trajectory of a person’s day, or maybe even their life.