It’s the day after my birthday and like Sylvia Plath after Christmas, I am overstuffed and dull. Not just physically, but emotionally and socially as well. I’ve had too much food, been given too many things, and shown too much attention in one day to process. It may be weeks before I recover myself fully.
Unlike Plath and many Christmases I’ve suffered through, I am far from disappointed. For me, birthdays are nearly always brimming with pure pleasure. I manage to cram so many of my favorite people and things into one day that my senses and soul become overwhelmed in the best possible ways.
I’ve been loved enough for another year and I’ll spend the next analyzing, agonizing, dreading, and then wishing again to be, for just 24 short hours, the center of my circle’s little universe.
I’m grateful for them all: my coworkers, my friends, my family. The celebrations aren’t yet over but the day is and no matter what other wishes or gifts I’m given the excitement of real and tangible growth is gone. A threshold has been crossed and the past year is fully in the past now, unreachable. I’m starting around the sun anew and I’m as young as I’ll ever be again.
I suppose every day is a birthday in that way. Perhaps spending a whole year celebrating the self every day isn’t such an unreasonable notion at all.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of that phase and this is the first time I’ve felt it ever seriously applied to me. 35 already feels different. For the first time I feel old. I know I’m not old but this is the first time I feel that I am not young and in my inexperience they seem the same.
This morning my wife made me a big breakfast, and afterward there were mimosas and gifts. She went all out this year. I got a cold-brew coffee maker, a Scrimshaw knife kit, a box of “Strike Your Fancy” matches, and a big, beautiful longboard! Apparently, there is still one more gift, but it hasn’t shipped yet and she won’t tell me what it is. I just have to wait until the world starts moving again to find out. FOr now I’m hanging out, watching my favorite shows and waiting until it’s time to roast the artichokes, steam the cran legs, and open the wine. It’s a good day despite everything that’s going on around us.
I got an email from Coursera about some courses I might be interested in. One is Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader and I’m really thinking about doing it. I need a long term learning goal I can work toward during these next three or four months away from work. There were courses I’ve been enrolled in and have been struggling to finish for nearly a year or more, but rather than wasting time avoiding or forcing myself to do the work, I have decided to embrace quitting. I’m quitting them (for now at least) and moving on to things I feel excited and passionate about.
There’s another one I heard about during a Sam Harris interview with Laurie Santos, “an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University”. Her course, The Science of Well-Being is not only the most popular course at Yale but also on all of Coursera. I think I’ll give it a go too.
So, I have new things and new goals. I have renewed resolve and a new direction. I’ve taken a tiny step and it feel good. It feels right.