One’s 36th birthday is not meant to be that remarkable.
It’s not a threshold birthday – granting the right to drive, vote, fight for one’s country, smoke or drink. It’s not a milestone birthday, worthy of a grand trip, party or luxury.
Quite honestly, it is just.
But for me, it was one of my best birthdays yet.
The craziest explanation for why I enjoyed it so much – isn’t necessarily in the details of what I did to celebrate—but rather, it’s grounded in the simplest of ideas…
I got to do exactly what I wanted.
Perhaps this is a dumb revelation to most people …. those people who I ferociously admire – who usually do exactly what they want to do all the time, unapologetically – who clearly know what they want and set boundaries and accept nothing less.
But for me, the simple act of knowing exactly what I wanted to do (SoulCycle with friends, watch Gleason and have a simple dinner with the Hubs at home) and getting to do it was remarkably fulfilling.
And then the Universe punctuated my birthday with an email from one of my wisest friends:
“I hope you have a truly wonderful day on your Birthday. And I’d like to explain what that means for me. On my birthdays these days, I don’t need a lot of fuss (though it can be fun, of course…) What I like to do is to just give myself a day wherein all day, I can marvel at the simple fact that I’m here at all. How that all came to pass is about as improbable as anything I could ever imagine. Any single mutation along our evolutionary path, any “near miss” by a piece of space rock, a certain day when my parents, or their parents (etc, but all the way back) had chosen NOT to get together on that day… The odds that I’m here at all is pretty amazing. So I see on my birthday, a chance to reflect just a bit on those odds, and for some odd reason, I begin to realize just how lucky I am. And that’s just the start. From there, I start looking at my family, my friends, all the precious gifts in my life… I think about all the times I’ve screwed up, and yet things still managed to work out. I think about what I HAVE accomplished, the things I’ve been allowed or otherwise been able to do… all of that creates almost a sense of awe for me on my birthday. And the best thing about treating my day in this way, is that I can have a normal work day, I can be sick, I can be having what might otherwise be a crappy day, and yet, this line of thinking keeps sneaking into whatever I’m doing, and it always makes me smile just a bit.”
Wow. I have had it wrong all along.
36 is remarkable.
As is 1. And 8. And 22. And all the birthdays in between and following.
(And I can spin if I want to.)