One reason I like getting older is because I know more, notably about myself. Because what else can be a more interesting & relevant topic to me? And I do like knowledge. That’s a thing I’ve learnt about myself too.

Birthdays are token days but I think tokens are important. They’re reminders of the bounty of life, a chance to celebrate all that is good about it – love, laughter, pleasure, relating. But they are not the entire essence of living & I think it’s unwise to make them so. “One day that is mine” is burdened with resentment that goes counter to the daily gratitude that makes life a joy.

I’ve realised I want a lot of love but it has to feel authentic & that’s usually not as flashy or dramatic the way grand gestures are. People feel forced to spend a lot, say a lot they don’t mean on birthdays & I can sense that jarring disconnect. I don’t like the heaviness of an expensive gift that’s a bribe to rectify time not spent, feelings not considered, love not shared. I’d rather not.

We express joy, gratitude & learning in different ways so I guess that’s why different people want different things for their birthdays. Imposing your idea of what it looks like on someone else’s birthday isn’t great. I’ve had birthdays that were lessons on who was bad for me because they did this. I guess some lessons are rougher than others. But well, a bicycle & a menstrual cup counted as birthday gifts & both came with their share of aches before I could truly appreciate the bounty they brought to my life.

Since 35, I’ve had a full health check around my birthday. It gives me direction for the year, checks my progress & makes me feel good for the things that do work. I couldn’t do this in 2019 because of a family health crisis & then 2020 due to the pandemic. But I’ve been okay so far so I choose to see this as riding without training wheels. And look, I am moving. What a joy is life!

I’ve written lots of birthday notes to myself. They’re my way of time travel. They make me fall in love with myself, cherish parts of myself I’d forgotten & give me hope for the next birthday. What’s a better gift than that?


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