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Happy Birth Day here's some cake.   —   Holidays

What does it mean to have been born? Is it the miracle of life's final stage in the form of a kicking and screaming bundle of joy, fulfilling only nature's natural design? Or is it the manifestation of a hope for happiness for our parents, being born not only with five fingers and five toes but also with an expectation of a life greater than the ones that came before it? Saddled with an ambition that is not ours and a blueprint for a world that we did not create.

I don't know why we are celebrated for being born. We did not choose it. We did not create ourselves. We were simply the subjects of nature and nurture, completely dependent upon others for our survival for years to come. So why is it that every year we eat cake and are showered with gifts and Happy Birthday wishes? Why is it that we expect grand gestures from those we love as though it's a measure of how much they love us?

Perhaps, like most of the celebrations we still participate in yearly, it all comes back to tradition. We were raised from the very first year of our lives to sit in front of a flaming birthday cake with a pointy hat on our head surrounded by family and friends and presents and balloons, to close our eyes and make a wish and to blow out fire. We are told that it is a very important day and so from that moment on it remains a Very Important Day because just because.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being a grump about birthdays. Personally I love any occasion that people give me gifts. I just want to understand why the occasion? Why the hoopla? Is it to commemorate another successful year of not dying? I guess I'm looking for some deserving aspect for the adoration. To be that I simply exist does not seem to warrant yearly celebration. Trillions of things exist. It's not that hard.

And despite my wonder I remain ever the dutiful victim of expectation and desire. And this year, like every year, I will invite friends to celebrate the life of Heather Corp Alexander, I will eat cake and blow out candles and open gifts and smile and say thank you all for coming you're such good friends and in my mind quietly whispering will be the one word question, Why?

Posted 5.9.2011 3:46:44 PM

Replies
Rose wrote:
I struggle with understanding rituals and holidays of all kinds. Christmas, birthday's, big crazy New Year's things, weddings, Valentine's Day...and the list could go on. I am incapable of respecting tradition for tradition's sake and find little comfort in just doing something because I'm supposed to. I find a lot of the holidays to be self-serving in a way. YAY - let's celebrate ME! Squeal! Spoiled kids become spoiled adults who buy into the whole "buy me something if you love me" thing. I'm feeling cantankerous and very much like your birthday inner self. I mean, sure, gifts are ALWAYS good, but everyone insists on pretending it "means" something. I turned 30 and people were on the verge of being angry with me because all I wanted to do was go for a run with our friends, get a massage and have a quiet dinner with Adam at a raw food place. No party, no crazy, just peace. I think I'm just weird. I celebrate everyday, everything, everyone. I don't need a special reminder day to be happy, you know? Whew. There's my 5,325,684 cents. Aaaand HAPPY BIRTHDAY (almost). xx
Posted 5/9/2011 4:13:07 PM - Rose's website
Stef wrote:
...i'd only be there to call dibs on your stuff when you die. i actually think celebrating your birthday is more about others and less about you. just personal opinion.
Posted 5/9/2011 6:12:26 PM
N@ wrote:
Your birthday is all about you, as it should be. Why not have a day to celebrate you? Why not make a party about getting older? With all the varied, negative things it can mean to age, especially as a woman in our culture, why not make it positive? Why not enjoy it? Where does it say that it can't be just about you? Why do we think it's bad to spoil ourselves and others we love? The world is full of ways to not feel great about yourself, to not take care of yourself, to not celebrate being you. If you're lucky enough to be a person who has the time and foresight to adequately care for yourself and be spoiled in moderation year-round, then kudos - you probably care a little less about your birthday! But some people need a day to remind themselves that they are important to others and that they can feel special, and there's nothing wrong with that. I take any occasion to celebrate me because somebody has to! Life's too short to be humble, and I work to hard not to enjoy my celebration times. Birthdays are amazing. I hope you enjoy yours. :)
Posted 5/9/2011 10:21:45 PM
Doll wrote:
Celebrating age and yourself, I guess that's what it boils down to. And I can totally get behind that. But I try to do those things every day. I celebrate getting older by looking in the mirror every morning and maintaining a level of self confidence that I can be proud of. I celebrate age by trying to learn from my mistakes and by trying to improve myself and my relationships and the way I treat others and having strength of character. I celebrate myself by taking care of my body and taking care of my spirit. I make ME time every single day and I try my damnedest to be humble, because it's a quality I value. I totally get the celebration of self, but for me it has nothing to do with birthdays but it has everything to do with how I decide to live my life every single day. I guess that all sounds more simple that it actually is, but life is all about being a work in progress until the day you die.

I'm not belittling birthdays or the celebrations of them, I sincerely do enjoy my birthday as well as others. I'm just trying to understand what it all means to me, personally, you know? I guess I still haven't figured it out after 33 years. I'll keep trying. ;)
Posted 5/10/2011 12:01:12 AM
Charlie wrote:
Well, think of it this way: The celebration of one's birthday is the celebration of receiving an almost impossible dose of luck.

The fertilization process is tricky business, after all. A single ejaculate of a healthy human male will contain at worst tens of millions of sperm, at best in the neighborhood of a billion. That's some pretty formidable competition. Yet, out of this unfathomable candidate pool vying for a single job opening, the one sperm that resulted in YOU was the one that emerged victorious. Had any other of those little bastards won that race, a wholly different person would've been introduced into the world, and we all might be reading a blog called A Wellspring in Santa Fe.

And just think of all the "chaos theory" elements that nudged your winner along. What was the temperature during and after the act of sex from which you were wrought? How about the humidity? Did your mother take a walk afterwards? A nap? A yoga class? How hydrated were your folks at the time? The answers to most of these and similar questions may be currently unknowable in practice, if not in principle (they HAVE answers, after all) and each played a part in why your little swimmer left a literal planet's worth of other little swimmers in its wake.

Everybody tells us not to play the lottery, because the odds are so ridiculous it's just a waste of money. Well, by being conceived, you beat odds that were far worse. The commemoration of that is, to me, at least worth a party and a slice of cake.
Posted 5/12/2011 2:58:32 PM
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