My birthday is this weekend. Is a celebration due because I have survived, in this case, another 366 days? I understand celebrating a high school or college graduation, a new job, a wedding, a retirement, or other events when a person has actually accomplished something. All I have done to have this birthday is to stay alive. Perhaps today that alone is noteworthy, but that does not separate me out from all I see around me.
“In each of us there is a little of all of us.” Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, 1764-99.
My birthday celebrations have generally been quiet affairs—no more than immediate family members with modest or no gifts but birthday cards, some sarcastic and some soppy. Several times the spouse, whose birthday is five days after mine, and I have been on a trip when my birthday occurred. On one of them, the guide gave me a small stuffed donkey. He said, with a smile, that it represented the burdens a man and husband must carry. I did not ask about his marriage.
“Life is one long process of getting tired.” Samuel Butler, Notebooks.
I don’t think about my age much, but I do know I can’t do many things as easily as I once did. When I was young, I did not ever think that it would be hard to cut my toenails or to get up off the floor. Sometimes a name or inconsequential fact seems stuck between my brain and my tongue. But I believe that I think as well as I ever did and that I laugh as much and make others laugh as often as I did when I was younger.
“Of all days, the day on which one has not laughed is surely the most wasted.” Nicolas Chamfort.
I know that I can’t do all the things I once did. I can’t run or play basketball or tennis for hours as in the past, but I can read and write as I always have.
Old joke: “Doctor, do you think sex over 70 can be dangerous?” “Absolutely! Pull over to the side of the road first.”
For a long time, I believed that I was born on Mother’s Day. I think that I was told that by the mother, and my birthday does periodically fall, as it does this year, on that holiday. But in fact I was born on a Thursday. I was disappointed when I learned that.
“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? Milton Berle.
I am the youngest of three children. I have an older brother and sister. I was told by my mother that if abortion had been legal back then that I would not have been born. Even so, the siblings maintain that I was the favorite child. I agree with that. And I believe that a woman should have the right to choose.
“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Florence Kennedy.
I will worry about my age when I no longer want to learn; when I no longer want to see what each day will bring; when I no longer enjoy a full moon or marvel at a star-studded sky or a beautiful sunset. Or a beautiful woman.
Old joke: “Doc, do I really have to give up wine, women, and song?” “Not at all. Sing as much as you like.”
There has been one constant at every stage of my life: I have always been a terrible singer.