Being in a foreign country away from all of your friends and family for your birthday is a very interesting thing. It's not an entirely lonely thing, because you get lots of messages from back home and the people there try to do a good job of doing something special for you--like get you punch drunk. It's weird to not have the people you care about the most around you though. I've experienced it once before when I went to Canada, though my mom was there that time. It's got me thinking a little.
We have our typical birthday celebrations--we go out to dinner, we have a cake, some party of sorts. But is this really the best way to celebrate birthdays? Why do we do it this way? Since I don't really have any of that, and since I'm not around all my friends I'm asking myself, "what is the best way to celebrate the day of my birth?" So then what is a birthday anyway? The celebration of the day of my birth. So maybe it's cool to be away from everything to celebrate it. Because birth is that entry into something completely new, something unfamiliar. It's not fun or comforting, but it's worth it. I don't think any of our actual birth days were all that enjoyable, but it signaled the start of something. And now we celebrate all that has come since that day, and all that we have gained. That's a good way to celebrate I think--reflect on all that you have gained since the day of your birth.
It's also just the celebration of the passing of a certain amount of time. It's just a marker really. A sign. It doesn't really point to anything ahead, but more of what has already been. We don't say, I'm beginning my 24th year, but rather, I am 23 years old. As the numbers get bigger and bigger, perhaps we begin to ask ourselves what we've done with all these years. Maybe that's the other good way to celebrate, think about all that you've been able to do in your years.
All you've gained and all you've done. One passive and the other active. I think those are some good things to think about on your birthday, and maybe some good things to tell others on their birthday. I'm not trying to fish for anything here, but maybe I'll try and do that on others' birthdays--tell them what I've seen them gain and what I've seen them do that's incredible. I think that's better than cake. It's certainly better than getting trashed. And just maybe it's better than presence.
That being said, I'm off to the pub to enjoy a European beer on my birthday.