My birthday is near again. Do you remember when birthdays used to be fun? As a child, your birthday meant cake, ice cream and a gift or two. It meant you got to pick what the family would have for dinner that evening. If at any time during the day there was a dispute about, say, the last cookie, you automatically won because, well, it was your birthday. No other explanation was needed.
Your birthday was a special day to be celebrated. Your parents celebrated because you were one year closer to buying your own food and paying for your own dental bills. Your siblings celebrated because they, too, got to eat cake and ice cream. And you celebrated because despite the fact that you were a pain in your parents’ behind, they let you live another year.
When we’re middle-aged, birthdays tend to be less fun. You eat cake and ice cream in spite of the fact that your doctor says you are a hair’s breath away from diabetes and heart disease. What is the point in living another year if you can’t have cake and ice cream, I ask you? You get winded just trying to blow out the candles, which are so numerous, the cake is in danger of spontaneous combustion. As you are wheezing through the last three candles, your kids are mentally dividing your estate. It’s actually kind of sad.
Your birthday should be more like finally making it to “GO” on a hotel-infested Monopoly board. You made it! It should be celebrated by collecting $200 and buying a wardrobe that fits your ever-ballooning hips. Instead we look at the future and see Park Place with two hotels looming.
I forget how old I’ll be this year. No, it’s not the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I forget on purpose, if that is possible. What does it matter what my age is? Age is only used for two things: To determine how long you’ve been living and to estimate how long you have left. Since nobody knows when we’re going to kick the bucket, focusing on your age is like counting down to an unseen inevitable. It is an unknown variable.
Age is a number. Numbers are used for math equations. This is an equation that cannot be solved. So, if we cannot use our age to determine how long we will live, why use a number at all? We should express our age the way the Chinese express years: The Year of the Dragon, the Year of the Lion, the Year of the Rat. For our age, we should get to choose what this year will be for us.
For example, I have decided that this year will be my Year of the Eagle. I will be a great mother to my children. I will make sure my mate knows this is for life. I will strive to see the small things a little clearer. I will fly higher than I ever have before and, as an afterthought, I will not be afraid of heights.
My birthday will not be simply a number. It will be a kind of Re- Birthday.
We have the chance to reinvent ourselves every year. Instead of counting down the years until the Grim Reaper calls, why not choose to hope and dream and make goals? You’ll have an eternity to think about judgment day after it happens. For now, you are alive, you have choices, and that’s worth celebrating!
So bring on that sugar-free cake and low-fat ice cream, thank you. I’ve got things to do! This is my Eagle Year and I’m not going to waste it. Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.