Yesterday was my birthday. My twenty-third. The problem with that is not that time passes too quickly, but that it passes at all. As one birthday succeeds another they lose their significance and gradually acquire fatalistic connotations. Another birthday, another milestone on the highway to Lady Death…
I can understand why children and people with large social circles are usually excited by their birthdays – cake, presents, party etc – both for a short and frail boy-writer with a hat who, for all that he knows, is dying at a faster pace than most of you, and who moreover is becoming less and less concerned with the material world and has little to no desire for society, birthdays can only be problematic.
To tell you the truth, my birthday is the most depressing day of the year – more so than Christmas and the New Year – and I cannot wait being done with it. Must aging really be celebrated? On my birthdays I feel like hiding in my room and pretending it’s a normal day, so that nobody can waylay me and tap me on the shoulder and cry,
‘Happy birthday, boy! (You’re getting closer and closer to death). Hurray!’
Besides, no one can gift-wrap good health and offer it to you as a birthday present. That’s not to say I have not received some other presents. Mother and her boyfriend bought me a short pyjama which is too large for my thinning body, a rather ugly tea cup, and a bedsheet with a pillowcase, smooth indeed, but didn’t I already have a shelf full of similar sleeping accoutrements?
To top it all, mother also managed to fit in the gift bag a carpet for my bathroom, which, even in its initial state of rolled-up repose, was quite disconcerting and which, moreover, she should have rather purchased for her own birthday. Still, I will not look the gift horse in the mouth for he may well have a bad breath.
The fate of the gifts: the carpet will warm my feet (especially if I may develop peripheral neuropathy sometime in the future, with chemotherapy you never know), the pyjamas will be worn (I hope), the cup will be filled with tea once or twice before maternal eyes and then discreetly forgotten in a shadowy cupboard, and the bedsheet may one day caress skin softer than my own (you know what I mean).
Some Buddhist books on living and dying and the uselessness of fear would have certainly been much more suitable considering my circumstances (or at least an Amazon gift card through which I could have purchased them myself), but alas, not everyone has sensible parents.
Dear reader of my blog, here’s a life tip: when you buy a present for your offspring, or for anyone else for that matter, try to buy something that he or she would like, not what you like — look at it from their perspective, not yours. Else he or she will politely accept it, appreciating the gesture more than the object itself, and then, when you’re not looking, bicker about it in a blog post. (No, mother doesn’t read my blog.)
What’s the best birthday present you ever received?