Happy Birthday to Me!

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?

39 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me!

  1. Happy birthday! Your current fixation with death is unintentionally hilarious ha (I’m optimistic that you’ll be fine!) and even though you’re right about birthdays i.e. it’s really about edging ever closer to death, I’m grateful you’ve been born into our world, here and now – your poems and proses are a real gift to your avid readers 🙂

  2. Twenty-three is a horrible age. I can empathize with everything you are saying. I think of birthdays as the sun traveling around to the very spot it was when the person was born! Still a charming post! Thank you!

      1. You are uncertain, but your age is not.
        You are young.

        There IS somethng unintentionally hilarious about your world-weary angst.
        I think you are a beautiful jewel, and I’m really glad that you and your hat are here.

        Happy, um…you-know-what.

        Claire Marie

  3. I always ask my family what presents they would like, as I’d hate to cause them the embarrassment of having to “pretend” to like something I’d given them.

    Twenty-three is very young, but I remember being very unhappy at that age. Now when it’s my birthday, I tell people I’m not celebrating my birthday but the fact that I’ve managed to last another year and am still in one piece, although the bone scan I had recently was a bit dicey. Time to up the calcium and vitmin D, I think.

    Here’s hoping you have some good things in store for you in the next year.

  4. My dear Boy with a hat…I’ll have reached 75 birthdays on November 13th and I DO celebrate the privilege of life…every day and every hour I’m given… I , too have multiple physical issues sometimes causing me great pain, but my physical body is only a container for who I really am, and every experience I have is a lesson …we’re on this earth in these imperfect bodies to learn, to grow, and to become better entities…you have been given a beautiful gift and those of us who have been blessed with the privilege of sharing in it, thank you and bless you for allowing us in…happy belated birthday, dear one, and may you be greatly blessed as you bless others…Naomi

  5. Happy Birthday! I feel similarly about birthdays as a reminder of aging.
    I’m apparently twenty but mentally I feel younger. 🙂

  6. One of the best (non birthday) gifts I have gotten was the invisible one that you sent me when I responded initially to your blog.

    Sometimes life sucks, other times we get a chance to suck back.

    Happy sucky birthday,
    Just don’t stay there for too long.
    in a Zen fashion, let it go.


  7. I don’t think I’ve ever received a good birthday present! I know as a child I was such a selfish little blot I didn’t consider my parents’ poverty and received each lesser than expected gift with ill-concealed disappointment: there should be a law against childhood. Notable landmarks? For my twenty-fifth i remember my best friend gave me a birthday card congratulating me on achieving my first quarter-century!

      1. You know how some memories are so vivid they live on in your mind’s eye more strongly than if they were actually there? I hope your birthday proved better than you anticipated, Vincentiu!

  8. Happy Sad Birthday Boy. Well, at least now I know what to buy you 😉 Commiserations on another year passed and, we hope, many more to come. Who knows, maybe someday you will find it worth the celebration!

  9. Happy belated birthday Vincentiu.
    I am sure I will read many more birthday posts on similar lines (morbidity and all) from you in the coming years. Can’t wait for them.
    Only a lucky few are happy with their gifts, so you are in good company.

  10. Happy Birthday to you with some delay! My birthday is on 22/08 and the best gift I have ever got was in 2002 when my first son was born on 24/08. Every day is a special day and it is a gift to age in a healthy way, to be grateful for the simple things in life, to be free physically and mentally, to share experience and to enjoy life, to have the possibility to travel near or far, to be creative, to explore your talent, to be mindful. As you say, we approach death, so we shoud get rid of the unimportant and not to waste time to negative thoughts even if it is not always easy in this chaotic world or for a searching soul. But I am sure you know all that already.

  11. It is sad that your mother doesn’t read your blog, but nice at the same time. Freedom to write as you feel without concern for how your feelings might affect others is refreshing. I worry all the time about how what I write might affect this person or that — including dear you. (I mean that.) I too dread birthdays. At 30, they are even less appealing than they were at 23. And yet… They are necessary. We as humans are either living (hopefully enjoying and learning about this wide world we live in) and, thus, aging, or dead, and I personally would choose the former over the latter. Even when bad things happen. (I am currently typing one-handed as my broken collarbone has left me crippled…) I sorry your mom gave you gifts that she would want, rather than what you might want. I promise that that is not the case with the package I am (still!) preparing for you.

    Happy Birthday, my faraway friend. You are far more special than you know.

  12. Hello, boy! 🙂 As happy spirit as I am, birthdays also make me sad. My birthdays. Perhaps it’s because I always expect things that not always come. I’m not sure. I don’t care about my age much.

    I must say, your mother doesn’t know you at all. Or.. I don’t know you at all. I may have had bought you a tea cup (with Polish cookies to it ;)), but not the rest. But then there are many better ideas which I think you’d also fancy much more.

    Dear Vincent, I wish you to not age. May your spirit be always young. And I wish you travels. To Catalonia. Or to Poland.

    I send you a warm silent hug and hope you smile if only for a second…

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