For a variety of reasons I do not tend to find birthdays to be very celebratory times. I’m not someone who tends to have fun very easily, even though I need a great deal more cheer and encouragement than most other people, I think. At any rate, not being a partying or drinking sort of fellow, nor having had a history of my birthdays being more than an excuse to eat with friends, if they are around. Apparently some of my coworkers have some plans to take me out for kow soy later on today, so we’ll see how that goes. So far this has not been one of my better birthdays, but if the end result is worthwhile, then my view of it will improve.
It has become increasingly clear to me that a theme of my life right now is communication. I did not necessarily ask for a lesson in working on making myself somewhat understood through painfully long and sometimes embarrassing explanations, constant miscommunication, and endless searching self-examination without a great deal of resolution, but someone apparently thought I needed the lesson, and I accept that. Birthdays and anniversaries are opportunities for examining where we are and where want to be. Often there is a large gap between the two, but so long as there is the will to continue on as long as it takes to become better people, the rest can be learned along the way.
After all, when we are born we begin to die. In this physical life, we all have the same beginning and the same ending–we are born and we will die. We do not know when or how we will die, and often that is out of our control, unless we take it into our own hands with self-destruction, as can be tempting for those who are more melancholy and despondent. All of the gifts and talents, all of the wealth and beauty and intelligence we are given cannot change the verdict on our lives that we share with anyone who has ever lived. Death is an inescapable aspect of our lives, even for those souls who are much less morbid than I am.
But rather than dispiriting us, it ought to clarify exactly upon what standard we are to live our lives. All other things being equal, we ought to prefer prosperous and happy and fun lives. But things are rarely ever equal. Since we are judged on how we live our lives, whatever sort of judgment we care the most about, we therefore have encouragement to live our lives as best as we can. If we desire future good, sometimes we must be willing to endure present suffering and discomfort while we do what is necessary to be better in the future. And we who teach such lessons ought to be sensitive to our need to apply those lessons to ourselves, especially when those lessons are painful. We cannot teach to others what we do not know ourselves.
Perhaps I ought to take the opportunity for self-examination as a present, if an unintentional one. At this moment in time I do not feel particularly well equipped for what I most deeply seek. But if I am going to get there I will need to work, even if that work is deeply painful to me. The present is not satisfactory, and a glorious future requires a great deal of effort, patience, and learning. And so as if often the case I find that being a teacher merely means learning how to be a more apt student. Such is the life, though, I suppose, another thought to reflect upon as the sands slowly fall in the hourglass of my tumultuous life.