I've always loved celebrating birthdays, and every year I try to convince Jared the celebration is supposed to last the entire week of my birth date. One day is just not enough time to celebrate my awesomeness.
The past few years, though, I've been somewhat reluctant to acknowledge another year has passed. I don't feel this old, I definitely don't look this old, and I haven't come close to my younger self's vision of me at this age.
I'm obviously not alone in these thoughts, considering the amount of "birthday humor" products that exist and the number of times I hear statements like, "Birthdays just aren't exciting for adults." We all seem to eventually adopt the mindset articulated so well by Jason Bateman's character in The Switch:
"Getting old sucks. Most people don't accomplish what they'd hope to, and they realize that they are most likely not going to. They end up living these quiet lives of denial, and brushing birthdays under the rug just becomes a part of that."
Then something terrible happens—to us, someone we know, someone on the news. It doesn't matter. Someone is diagnosed with cancer. Someone loses a child, a spouse, a parent. Someone loses a job. A relationship ends. Someone loses a home to a fire. We learn someone has never had a home.
Then, suddenly, my life is not so bad. My husband's annoying habits are not so annoying when I realize I am lucky to just go home to him and hug him as long and tightly as I want. My jiggly thighs aren't so depressing when I realize I'm lucky to have legs healthy and able enough to run and bend and move, taking me anywhere I want to go. My commute isn't so frustrating when I realize I'm lucky to have a car to take me to a job every day.
I start to squeeze my husband a little less tightly. I groan when I look in the mirror. I grumble to myself in the car going to and from work. I complain about my humid, cramped apartment. I go from tolerant to completely irate in seconds when dealing with strangers. Until the next bad news bomb is dropped.
Why this never-ending cycle? Why do we so easily forget the simple and truly wonderful parts of life we experience every day? It shouldn't take a tragedy to remind us that our lives are worth celebrating every day—and that birthdays are worth celebrating every year. You've just completed another year on Earth! What a blessing you have been given that so many other people will not be able to experience. What a sad thing to downplay and take for granted.
What difference would it make if we lived every day the way we live those few days after tragedy strikes, remembering to appreciate what we have, striving to make the most of our situations, treating others as though each day is their last? I