Updated: Dec 1, 2021
It's my birthday. Don't switch apps just yet to wish me. Really, it's okay. I appreciate the gesture, and I welcome your light and love. But, we can skip the customary ten-minute small talk where you ask me about my plans and I tell you how I'd just like a quiet day. Really, I prefer it that way.
My loved ones hate how apathetic I am about the day. Every year, they try getting me dance-y about it, and every year, I unfortunately disappoint them. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but in a strange way, I have always been a little morbid about it, lately more so. The closest I have been able to put it into words is when I watched The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Here's a little refresher.
Charlie: Just tell me how to stop it.
Psychiatrist: Stop what?
Charlie: Seeing it. All their lives. All the time. Just, how do you stop seeing it?
Psychiatrist: Seeing what?
Charlie: There is so much pain. And I don’t know how to not notice it.
Psychiatrist: What’s hurting you?
Charlie: No! Not me. It’s them. It’s everyone. It never stops
Only, in my case, there are no ugly, repressed memories bubbling beneath the surface. Just an observation of the world around me. And the news. And the sight. I am grateful beyond measure about the life I have led, and will continue to live. But - There. Is. So. Much. Pain.
How do I go out and celebrate, when on my way, I am greeted by kids not older than five asking for alms? How do I cross the street to enter the restaurant for my dinner party when I see an old, impoverished couple shriveled under a torn rag? How do I raise a toast to the years of my life when I know of people who didn't get to live all of theirs? What have I done to cut a cake today with my parents when I know only buildings across there is a family still mourning their child?
Having said this, I must also admit I'm a hypocrite. I have spent months ensuring that the people I love most have the kind of special day they'd remember for years. And while I hold a very morose view on the subject, I have at times pushed those around me to celebrate life. Because, it is meant to be celebrated. Only, the festivities should be of your choice. Even if that means having another placid day catching up on your chores.
One could argue, this is a highly skewed, pessimistic outlook on life. That pain and bliss have co-existed for millennia, and that is how the Universe intended it to be. That, by not cherishing my day, I am essentially throwing away all that I have been gifted. To them I would say, every moment I live, is a moment rejoiced. My privilege is my party; my fortune my feast. As long as I have people who flinch when I seem dispassionate about exciting times, I'll never need a box wrapped in ribbons bows. As for the birthday, someday when the world doesn't have to stay six feet apart, I'll cut my cake with the five-year-old who used to traffic garbage bags for a living - on his graduation day.