Everyone: Soooo, what are you doing for your birthday?
Me: Same thing I do every Thursday: Sleep in, have a big breakfast, go for a ride, finish my homework, grab a double-double Animal style, go to Statistics class, and maybe have a glass of wine before I go to bed at 11:00.
Everyone: Come on! What are you talking about?!? You need to celebrate!!! This is The Big One! You’re turning 40! Live a little!
Me: I’m sorry? Maybe you didn’t hear me? I get to:
- sleep to my heart’s content — no alarm clock, no morning meetings, no commute to the lab…
- enjoy a leisurely pot of coffee and some beautifully poached eggs with a giant wedge o’ brie (or maybe some thick slices of caramelized banana cream-cheese-stuffed French toast instead?) and a side of extra-crisp bacon — mmmm, bacon!
- take my bike out for 3 or so hours surrounded either by jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean (presently riddled with pods of frolicking dolphins) or eye-popping views of the city’s sparkly vastness as seen from the crest of a newly rain-washed foothill;
- reward my exertion by refueling with the country’s #1 $3 hamburger (whose value exceeds its cost by at least 3x) as I walk onto the gorgeous UCLA campus to be enriched with knowledge that ultimately will transform my life;
- and then get tucked into bed with a glass of Peterson Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah served by my Bonus…
Ahhhh. Pure bliss, I tell you!
I can’t imagine a better, more appropriate, or inspiring way to celebrate the fact that I managed to make it to 40.
If you want to celebrate me being 40, then this is it. Today is all about me — and to celebrate who I am, I choose to simply be who I am.
This is me. This is 40. This is –as far as I’m concerned– 100% awesomeness personified.
If you want to celebrate who I’m not, then stick around for June 11 … we can do a bang-up sort of “standard” celebration on that day to commemorate the fact that I’m not dead. June 11 is an entirely appropriate day to carry on in an extravagant way. For sure, June 11 was a defining moment in my life — but not in the way many might imagine. Sure, it provided a fulcrum around which my work has rotated, but it didn’t change my core beliefs.
If anything, it solidified them.
I’ve never bought into the “live each day like it’s your last” concept, which seems designed to lead you inevitably down a hedonistic path toward (proverbial and literal) hangover and regret.
To me, it seems infinitely more interesting and exciting to try to treat each day as if it were your first — to embrace the newness of each dawn and the opportunity to shape the day to fit your current vision of the future. When you do that, each day feels like a fresh celebration and you never awake with regrets.
Apparently I am not the first person to come up with this idea. Good ol’ Goethe beat me to it by a few centuries … at least according to the birthday card I received from my dear pal, Barky-Bark:
Frankly, it was a little f*cking spooky to receive this card yesterday (Wednesday) given that 95% of this posting was already drafted (as KDQ can attest because she got a sneak-peak of it on Tuesday).
After I recovered from the shock of having the universe deliver the EXACT RIGHT WORDS to me, I thanked it (the universe) for the unbelievable gift.
In reflecting further on other miraculous gifts bestowed on me over the past 40 years, I came to the (now painfully obvious) realization that the best, most memorable, most important, most beloved gifts did not involve any sort of wrapping paper, ribbon, or folderol. What I’ve loved most of all is getting to explore this world in the company of the great many people in my life who really love me for me — quirks and all, and whom I really love back. I am so grateful for their company, for their partnership in delving into the wonders of life and the universe.
Thank you for
tolerating celebrating the person I’ve become over the past 4 decades. I’m thrilled beyond reason to have you in my life and I eagerly await our next exploratory outing.
But for now … it’s time for bacon and bicycles!
Parting Thought: I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt