Monday, February 21, 2022

On Birthdays and Growing Older

I remember being in philosophy class in college and my professor said that “As soon as we are born we begin to die.”  It’s something that I’ve thought a lot about since I first heard it, mostly because it made me think about how fragile life is, and how short it can be. It made me wonder about how I should live it to make sure that I have done my best with it. 

February is my birthday month. Again, I grow a year older. Again, I have this tendency to count how many years of life I have left. I know that no one knows when he or she will die, but I tend to count it by deducting my age from 90 (which is in the age range that my grandparents had when they passed).  It’s weird, I know but I tend to mentally do it without even thinking about it.

Photo by m_u_z007 on Pixabay

When I realize the “years I have left” I also look back on the years that I have had. It’s not to put too much pressure on myself, but more to just reassure me that while not everything in my life has been productive or meaningful, I think that I have done well for myself given the circumstances I have been in. It’s about being grateful for everything, good and bad, that has led me to the point of who I am right now. It’s about seeing how and where I could do better.

I haven’t been very excited about my birthdays in years. My family and friends still make it a big deal by celebrating with a meal, having a cake with a candle I can blow to make a wish, and all that. I appreciate the gesture, but to be honest, one thing that I’ve wanted to do for my birthday is to get away. Be away from everyone and enjoy a vacation by myself to just be by myself and my thoughts. Be able to enjoy reading a book, eating a good meal, going to the spa, or taking a bubble bath without having to worry about anyone or anything else. To enjoy watching the sunrise as I drink a cup of coffee and staring at the sunset at the end of a beautiful day. To celebrate my birthday with just me, even if it’s just a quiet weekend getaway somewhere where I could do anything I want to celebrate another year of life. I don’t know when that would be possible given this pandemic, but I would love for that to happen one day.

While growing older has its cons (physically, for the most part), I do appreciate the years I have. There’s something to be said for the life experience that you gain as years go by. How life molds you into a better, wiser person (if you allow it to). Still, I miss the naivete of youth. Where you feel invincible, that anything and everything is possible and everything is good and will only get better. It’s good to still think and feel that way, but I found that as I got older, I became more pragmatic than idealistic. I still keep some of that idealism locked away, but mostly I think these days I am more of a realist. I still dream big, but I also am aware that things will not always go my way and that life can always make big changes beyond my control (like this pandemic, for example). 

If there’s one thing that growing older has taught me, it’s to go with the flow. You can still dream, be idealistic, but you should also know that there is no straight way towards what you want. The road to it may twist and turn and you have to learn to move and course-correct along with it. You can also change your dreams if it no longer serves you. At some point, you have to see that with life, you can’t always be looking back, but that you should keep looking forward. Appreciate the past, but move towards the future.

Happy birthday to me. 


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