Tomorrow, I turn 62 years old. It is my second birthday in the Land of Oblivion (otherwise known as the worldwide pandemic.) I cannot really complain. Both birthdays have occurred in COVID “cautiously optimistic” periods. Last year, we were beginning to find ways out of lockdown and back into some semblance of life outside the home. This year, though I live in Florida, which the media portrays as a swamp of COVID infections having a rave party, the peak of the deadly delta variant cases is behind us. The numbers of new cases are still significant, but they have been declining by about 25,000 each week for the past several weeks.
I was able to celebrate my birthday at the Magic Kingdom last year. It was an oddly empty Magic Kingdom because of substantial capacity limits. Still, it was even more exciting than usual because of the deprivation of the previous five months. Also, I enjoyed being able to amble and genuinely see things that I might have missed in the past because of crowds and momentum. My expectations were extremely low that day. I frequently found myself marveling and giggling in delight over the creative ways that Disney adapted to social distancing requirements so that the magic was still there. It was just quieter magic. I’m never one to complain about quiet.
This year, we are going to Disney Springs for my birthday. As it happens, Walt Disney World is also celebrating a birthday this week. Disney World will be 50 years old on October 1, 2021…the day after my birthday. I toyed with the idea of going to one of the parks but decided the magic might be a little too loud for me right in the belly of the beast. I decided instead to buy myself a 50th anniversary magic band and have a nice dinner at the Springs.
Birthdays are big for me. Typically, I never put myself first. In fact, I put myself last. I don’t say this to sound like a saint or a martyr. I am not mad about it. In fact, it is a strategy that has worked well for me, for the most part. The problem is that when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work. I have some straight edge issues that tend to cut unbearably deep when my “put yourself last” strategy fails to hold them at bay. Right now, my brain is engaged in a battle royale about why this is so and what I can do about it. I do not intend to be mysterious. I am sure I will enlighten you further about the fascinating topic of the workings of my psyche in another blog post when I figure stuff out. For the time being, let us just say that I tend to put myself last in most situations and do not mind it.
My birthday is different, however. It is the one day of the year that I let it be all about me. In fact, I kind of insist it be all about me. I can be rather annoying about it. For many people, aging ceases to be a cause for celebration after retirement. I think growth is worth celebrating at any time. It has been critically important to me to continue to grow in retirement. Each year marks the completion of a twelve-month course on living life. I endeavor to read the textbooks, but also do the lab work so that I do feel like a birthday marks another year of a self-improvement. If I sometimes get a bit down over the aging process, I also celebrate my annual graduation to the next grade in the School of Life.
The other reason I value my yearly birthday celebration is even more important. Everyone is a unique person…” fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 tells us. If I am not celebrating another year of age, I can at least celebrate the wonder of my creation and the exquisite elegance of God’s plan. Even on the days when I do not see any wonder in my specific creation, I hold fast to the knowledge that God does. When I celebrate me on my birthday, I am celebrating, thanking, and glorifying my amazing Creator.
How do you celebrate your birthday? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a happy birthday or happy un-birthday, as the case may be!