The ultimate adventure is of course being born. It is the start of a perilous journey for new parents both prior to and after birth. In so many ways it is truly “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adventure) to relationships, health, careers, finances, and emotions.
As we start this journey, we have no concept of time and each birthday celebration is a surprise occurrence. We have no experience with time and do not keep track of how much of it has gone by. We are only made aware of it as our birthday gets closer (“You’re going to be 3 this year!” or “ We are going to XYZ to celebrate your birthday!”). Time comes as a surprise when we are young.
Then as we reach middle and high school, time doesn’t appear to move fast enough. Questions begin with “When can I…” and have endings like “be able to drive”, “go out on a date”, “stay up later?”, “leave home”, “go to college” or “drink.” Each one is answered with a specific age – “when you are XX year old!”
There is a mysterious period when years begin to fly by. When parties, jobs, beginning a family, kids in sports and other activities keep us so busy we hardly notice time going by until someone asks “Hey, isn’t next week your birthday?” and we almost have to check a calendar to see and schedule time off to celebrate.
And as the years progress birthdays become mere mile markers. Real celebrations are saved for the decade birthday years and are celebrated tongue-in-cheek with gag gifts and witty comments. Life is too busy, the kids have too many activities, and the focus is more on the next generation and surviving work than planning out a celebration of the adventure of life.
Finally, birthdays become markers of how quickly time has slipped by: how many friends have passed away or moved on, how kids now have kids who have kids; how celebrating a birthday is not really that critical anymore; how fast the adventure of life zipped by; and for some how interesting the next year’s adventures will be. It is a time to let the Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda beasts go and focus on the now.
It’s not meant to be a depressing thought. It is meant to be a reminder to enjoy every year of existence. Yes, I know some will go through horrific challenges, some will wish it would all just end now, or some will seek a “way back” machine to correct a thought, word or action which cannot be undone due to the way time flashed by but life is an adventure.
Whether we like it or not, time will continue to flow. And when all is said and done, it is every day you give birth to a smile, a laugh, a hug, a word of encouragement, a sign of kindness or a moment of shared quiet that needs to be celebrated. It is the connection we have with others, and the relationships we build up and not tear down.
That by itself is cause for celebrating our birth. We have the chance to reach out. We have the chance to make a difference. We have the chance to understand that WE (and others) MATTER.
Don’t squander the chance or time you have. Celebrate your day of birth as an adventure in blessing other people with the unique person you become every day.