Yesterday, I completed my thirty-fourth trip around Sol. The day was marked by the annual explosion of my Facebook profile — and my inbox (because I have Facebook set to email me whenever someone posts on my profile since I don’t generally check it regularly; I’m silly like that) — as people wished me well on my birthday. Many of these well wishes came from friends and acquaintances, people I know or have met in real life. Several came from people I’ve never met before but who follow and respect and have befriended online. For all of these, you have my thanks. I’m not always good about extending similar well wishes to others on their special days, so I’m always humbled when people extend them to me.
My daughter’s ‘gift’ to me this year was a summer cold, so I spent most of the day coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose, feeling queasy, and aching all over. It’s not the first time I’ve been sick on my birthday, nor has it been the worst. (I had a nasty stomach bug one year. That was the worst.)
There’s nothing particularly special or notable about thirty-four. It’s not a milestone year of any kind, not even by any of our society’s usual arbitrary standards. It, like most of my birthdays of recent years, came and went with very little fanfare, which is the way I tend to prefer it. I stopped getting excited about my birthday after twenty-five. It is, in many ways, just another day of the year.
And I think that, in itself, is a testament to the quality of my life the other 364 days of the year. It says to me that my life is good enough that I don’t look forward to a birthday as a high point in my year because there are so many days in the intervening months that serve as those high points. I get to share life with my partner and spouse. I get to watch my daughter grow and develop (she went from crawling to running practically overnight) and learn new things at an astonishing rate. I get to write and create and build wonderful, fantastic worlds while living in worlds created by others. I get to spend time in the great outdoors with my family while we grow things and sell them and grow our business. I get to enjoy new cultures and new ways of seeing things when we open our home to foreign exchange students. I get to do all these things all year long, and it is these things — and many others — that are the high points of my year.
There’s no way my birthday can even hold a candle to that.