May 18th. I used to mark it down on the calendar and anticipate waking up in the morning to the banner that my parents pulled out that read HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO DAVID!!! I’m not sure how early they got up to set out the presents and put up the streamers, but it started my day off with a different tone. It wasn’t just another day. It was my day…
After a few years, I finally noticed that my mom and dad just kept reusing the same banner. It wasn’t the tattered edges or slight tares that tipped me off to the dear artifact’s age. No, it was the out of date and over pixilated font along with the way in which each sheet of paper was connected to one another (you know… the old printer paper that had holes along the sides to feed the paper through the spool of the printer). I’m not sure why we never had new banners, especially because every couple of years we would get a new computer or printer. I do know that the first version of Print Shop would have wept along with me if that banner got a significant “upgrade.”
It’s odd how getting older changes how one views his or her own birthday. Waking up in the morning on our birthdays, or on Christmas or any special day for that matter, doesn’t quite carry the hype it once did. We speak of quarter or mid life crises as we worry about jobs, relationships, kids or direction. Not that it is entirely bad (some of it is even good), but I now find myself paying more attention to subjects that my 9-year-old self would have nothing to do with (again, not a completely unhealthy thing) and getting less out of the simpler things in life (oh to get the same joy out of Duck Hunt as I once did!). It is as if each year, when May 18 rolls around something clicks in my innermost being saying, “remember when” and “what now?”
Every year the task of remembering when gets harder as a plethora of memories seek to squeeze their way into an all too crowded space. And, as time passes, rather than the answers to the what now question getting simpler they get more difficult, often providing nothing more than additional complex questions. I woke up this morning loathing the inevitable thoughts. Reflecting on where I have been merely made me sad about where I thought I should have arrived. Looking forward scared the hell out of me for the same reason.
Yet here I sit, an hour left in ‘my day’ and as it closes I have realized I’ve missed the point. Yes it is okay to reflect and okay to dream. But my joy in celebrating a birthday cannot come in claiming the day as my own. After already surprising me with 20 of my friends on Sunday at the Padres game, Hailey took the day off of work to go to sushi and a movie with me. She took time to make one of my favorite dinners, call my sister and invite my favorite nieces over. They sat on my lap and blew out candles. We laughed, we played and we savored living in the moment together. I enjoyed the day, but solely because of the people I got to share it with. The more I focus on myself, the less I recognize the blessings that God has placed right in front of me. As I lay down to sleep tonight I pray that God shows me how to answer the what now question with what is really NOW in front of me—not the uncertainty that sits months or years down the road. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, but more importantly thank you for experiencing life with me. Thank you for forgiving me when I blow it, for laughing with me when I’m an idiot, for listening when I worry about the future, for crying with me and for running wild when the time is ripe to do so!