Birthdays, to celebrate or to ignore

Some people look at their birthdays negatively, regretting that their youth has passed them by. Some people don’t celebrate their birthdays hoping that if they ignore them their age won’t continue to climb.

I am not one of those people. Sure, I miss some parts of my youth as I recall the absence of gray hair and being able to burn the candle at both ends. But age has brought wisdom through experience, gratitude through survival, and humility through stumbling. Birthdays are a day to appreciate life, your life.

This one day marks an annual reminder that I have made it a little further on my journey, that I have traveled once more around the sun. I survived one more year on this brutal and beautiful planet. Today, I turn inward in silent appreciation for all that makes up my life. I take time for personal inventory, what have I achieved, what do I still wish to try, and how I feel about the choices I have made so far. I reflect with the realization that the fact that my heart continues to beat is a miracle which allows for perspective.

A quiet reflection with only those closest to me is how I will spend my day. Parties, cake, and gifts are not needed to celebrate the magic of continuing to survive. Breathing, being alive is my gift. All the unexpected, beautiful moments are my gifts. Each time I spend time with people who truly value me is a party.

“Your life is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be opened.” ~ Wayne Muller

Sure, those increasing strands of gray hair can be a nuisance to cover up, but what a gift to have grown old enough that I get to choose whether or not to do so. And yes, with age comes a gradual slowing of physical abilities, but that has allowed me more time to think. Pondering, meandering through the beauty of my own thoughts has been a luxury I would not have experienced if I were still insatiably chasing busyness.

So here’s to another year of surviving life’s curveballs, may this year bring peace, growth, and another birthday to celebrate.

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