Let’s get right to it:
Don’t you hate those office whip-arounds and teas where everyone donates money and best wishes for a mom-to-be as she departs on maternity leave? You always feel compelled to give something because everyone else is doing so. Even if you plan on never having children of your own. The secret behind this stupid ritual is the thought that one day it will be your turn and you’ll get your own windfall. A bit like a community savings scheme or what we call a stokvel in South Africa.
Birthdays follow the same insidious logic. Wish someone, buy them a pressie – and they’ll do the same for you when it’s your turn.
Birthdays are not special days for anyone with a brain. They’re all about subtle blackmail, the threat of non-reciprocation and egotism. They’re a scam, I tell you. A scam scaffolded by Facebook, greeting card companies and shopping malls.
And for introverts, they are excruciatingly painful affairs. I just want to hide away.
Today, I celebrate my 40th journey around the sun.
It’s supposed to be ‘special’ – like Christmas is ‘special’. Or Valentine’s Day. But like these other two fake celebrations, you can easily get swept up in how it’s supposed to be – thinking the universe is going to be extraordinarily nice to you… only to be disappointed by how it actually turns out.
And ’round number’ birthdays are supposed to be somehow even more special.
Thankfully I don’t buy into that claptrap. It isn’t because I’m depressed by my own looming mortality. It’s just that I think it’s a silly thing to do. Like getting excited by a whole lot of zeros rolling up on your car’s odometer. It means nothing.
I just get on with the business of living. One day at a time. And I try to get as much out of each day as I can.
Oh, and my wife-like girlfriend is making me a granadilla cake. And buying me a cheese burger with fries. And watching Sherlock with me on the couch.
Which is nice.
Also, I share my birthday with Charles Darwin. Not that this means anything to either of us.
And if it’s your birthday any time soon, I hope it’s a good day for you. (No need to return the favor.)