Friday, April 21, 2017

April 21st

I know many people look askance at birthdays and, too, at people who make a fuss over their own "special" day. It seems at once so self indulgent and irrelevant! Another one of those "me me me!" selfie moments, when in reality, the day is just a speck on the calendar of human existence. Shouldn't we be more humble about our own presence on the planet?

But here's another take on it: it is tough these days to find community. The Earth is crowded, people move from one place to the next, families break up, hunting and gathering seems so yesterday. So perhaps you could find in birthdays an excuse to get closer to people you most care about?

For me, there is another dimension: birthdays are personal. No one should care about the passing of your years. But you should care. Rather than drifting through life without thought to how the next year compares to the one before, isn't it good to be more deliberate about it?

I'm sixty-four today. I have sixty-four years of adventures, projects, mistakes, ambitions, feelings, springs, summers, falls, winters behind me. I'm beginning my sixty-fifth. To take the time to reflect, to be grateful, to look ahead -- to me, this is so cool! A birthday (for me) isn't a party day, it's a day to consider life once more. To find your personal reasons to smile. 

And if you can find a handful of loved ones to bounce around with -- well, that smile can turn into a mighty grin and you're on your way to the next year. Excited for the possibilities.

The morning dawns cool but with patches of sunshine. I used to joke that I do not recall an April 21st without at least a bit of sunshine in my day. This statement is less about my birthday of course, than about the weather patterns of the northern hemisphere where I've spent all my years: in April, clouds move through swiftly and even a rain spattered day can surprise you with moments of sunshine.

We eat breakfast in the sun room.

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The goal after is to take stock, to set a plan for the weekend garden work. But I linger inside. There's no hurry today. This is the luxury that every birthday deserves (yet it's the one thing that's so tough to come by) -- to have on your hands idle time.

Outside, the daffodils steal it once again. Their gold is my gold today.

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I dig and plant just one flower (in a vulnerable spot by the path to the house: here, the cheepers are especially prone to scratching). Tomorrow, I'll work harder.

My afternoon with Snowdrop is special, as her mommy joins us in our play. Adventuring is for the three of us (or perhaps the four of us, as my Chicago daughter calls just as we begin our stroll through the neighborhood: I feel especially rich being unexpectedly surrounded by the chatter of my three best girls!).

We visit the distant coffee shop...

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(Where Snowdrop explains to her mommy what's what...)

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And then we're off to the park. Snowdrop wont just stay with the kiddie swing these days. She now wants a turn on all possible swings.

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A climb up on the life guard's beach chair...

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And then we're off walking the neighborhood again, admiring all that's blooming right now.

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And still our outdoor time is not over. We tidy up Snowdrop's garden at her home...

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And then finally, we're indoors, where Snowdrop is extremely anxious to have me open birthday gifts. (I can help! I can do it!)

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If not for my text and, too, that last photo, the post would not appear that different from any other late April Ocean post. So what's the big deal?

And yet it's different. I know the date inside out. April 21st. And indeed, the evening takes on some of those celebratory overtones. A drink out with just my daughter...

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A dinner with Ed (a real selfie here, perhaps because we are doing an evening out -- a rarity for us)...

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And an evening at home, like the two couch hounds that we are -- looking for something funny and wise on TV, but really, just taking in the last bit of a birthday. Mine, sure, but this doesn't make me unique or special. We all have birthdays. You, me, everybody. Happy birthdays to all of us!