"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
I’ve recently accustomed myself to writing down a different age, because that time of the year has come as swiftly as the last one.
Dad has always expressed his opinion of birthdays, and it seems I’ve adopted the sentiment: it’s only an ordinary day. No different from any other. Apart from the fact that some distant time in the past, I was welcomed into the world.
(Although I must remark that friends take an extra effort to make the annual celebration special, and I do appreciate them.)
The question remains. Why do birthdays seem like such a big deal? If a friend sends you a page long message, does that bump him higher in your rank of friends? If a family member can’t shimmy out of a meeting for your birthday dinner, does it mean he might as well be estranged?
The logical answer (and the gracious one) is ‘of course not.’ Just because it is someone’s birthday, it doesn’t mean that the sun is obligated to circle around them.
Of course not.
Make no mistake, I’m not completely against birthdays. I think the idea of celebrating someone’s life is fantastic! I enjoy greeting people and making them feel like they are special entities in this harsh world—which they are…But I can’t help but feel that birthdays seem arbitrary in the greater scheme of things.
Birthdays are meant to be landmarks of a person’s existence. You’ve been on this earth for fifty years! Congratulations! You must have lived a great deal--there is the assumption.
Perhaps the longer one exists on this earth, the more he lives.
Though there may be a correlation between existing and living, there is no implied causation of such. (Got that from an old latin quip, in case you were wondering.) Our lives are not measured by the number of days we spend sprawled out on our beds doing absolutely nothing, rather they are measured by the number of days we’re actually living.
This is not to say that spending time indoors is not living—I myself do not frequent parties or social gatherings.
Often times, we are so fixated on some intangible future or some singular time in the future that we forget to live in the present.
CS Lewis’ character Susan Pevensie, for example, was said to have ‘wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race to the silliest time of one’s life as quickly as she can and then stop there as long as she can.’
Susan did ‘grow up,’ literally, but she didn’t see the whole life picture. Likewise, there are years we wish to whisk past thinking that we’d love the next chapter more than our present. The clock, unfortunately, only goes one way. We can never reclaim the minutes lost.
So, what does it mean to live? (What a heavy question.) I suppose it varies from person to person since we are different people…So I can’t really answer that for anyone…But there’s something common in a well spent life. A well spent life has a person waking up every single morning passionate about something. Something worth living for. Perhaps that is what it means to live.
You should find that something.
As for myself?
I think I’ve found it.
Rather, I think I’ve found Him.
There are other projects I love putting my mind to, but I’ve got a King I’m passionate about, and if nothing else, it’s enough.
So there, I’m another year older, and hopefully, my year has accumulated to days well spent. I hope that my time here on earth add up to more than just years. I hope they add up to something worthwhile. I hope this sort of life is what my colleagues and acquaintances celebrate on my birthday.