I turn 26 today, a fact that almost escaped my attention in the midst of this busy, wild season.
I never forget my birthday, and was totally shocked when this one snuck up on me — catching me with my pants down, not at all ready to celebrate.
I’ve heard that 26 is a hard birthday. It’s not particularly remarkable; you’re just a year older. You can’t do anything that’s new and cool, no drivers license, no legal entrance into all the bars that were so deliciously forbidden prior to that day
It’s kind of an old birthday. You’re not in your early 20’s anymore, a fact that makes you examine yourself in the mirror for a moment, trying to figure out if that’s a wrinkle or a shadow.
I’ve seriously considered dreading this birthday, feeling like at some point I should join the club and start hating the passing of the days, sweeping May 15th right under the rug before anyone should notice me aging.
But that’s not how I want to spend my 26th birthday, or any birthday for that matter. Because I believe birthdays are important.
Also, dreading something so inevitable sounds exhausting.
As long as we’re alive, we’re going to get older, and that’s just a fact, (and a gift – aging is a gift not given to everyone).
If we choose to hate our birthdays, we need to realize that it’s only going to get worse from here. It sounds like a losing battle to me. If I’m freaking out about turning 26, how am I going to feel about 36, or 46, or 86? No matter how ferocious our dread, we cannot reverse the clock. What we can control is our attitude about the whole thing.
So I’m deciding, here and now, that birthdays are a great thing. Even if they’re not our 16th, or our 21st, they’re still fabulous and worth every ounce of celebration we can give them.
Life is hard. Tune into the news, or into your friends, or into your own home, and you’ll see it’s true.
Celebration can feel frivolous in the face of the world’s darkness. But I believe there is nothing more important.
Celebration is not ignoring the darkness or being ignorant of its presence.
Celebration is looking at the world around us and intentionally noticing the light.
Yes, there are heartbreaking things going on in the world, and in my world, but there are also soul-changingly beautiful things happening all around us. We sometimes just forget to see them.
That’s what our birthday offers us. It offers us a moment to stop and notice our lives.
It’s a chance to reflect on our existence, and the fact that we’re still here. It’s an opportunity to eat something delicious and to be surrounded by the people who love you most. It’s a daylong reminder that you matter, that you’re loved, that you’re worthy of celebration.
And in a world like ours, we need that.
We need reminders of our heartbeats, of the fact that we’re still here and that it matters.
We need to be reminded that the world is beautiful, and that it glows like candles, and is sweet like birthday cake. We need to toast to the good things with a glass of champagne, and open a new year like the gift that it is.
Your life is a gift, and today you’ve been given another day. And whether it’s your birthday or not, it’s worthy of being celebrated.
Cheers, and happy 26th birthday to me! 🙂