With my birthday just around the corner, I thought I might as well buy myself a well-deserved gift or two, some tea and books of course, in anticipation of the gifts others will likely give me. For birthdays have indeed that power to summon you into the memory of people who are usually too occupied with their own lives to trouble themselves too much about you. But then I thought, why do we need birthday gifts?
Gifts are okay when we receive them, and it would be impolite not to accept any that are given to us, but can’t we do without them? What if we don’t expect any birthday gifts from others, and not buy any ourselves, either? What if instead we give ourselves the gift of time?
Innocent as they are, birthday gifts are often quick fixes or attempts to make amends for things we did or didn’t do, for things we said or didn’t say. The best gift is not something money can buy, but the gift of our attention, the gift of time. To be given not just on a particular day, but all year round.
Not all relationships invite that gift, of course, and in many cases a purchasable thing will be okay, but as far as gifts we give ourselves are concerned, the gift of time is usually the most inspired. Time with ourselves, or with others dear to us, free from distractions and things we could use but don’t really need. Time to rest, introspect, and meditate, time to understand ourselves better.
It could be a much deserved vacation, a quick trip somewhere, or a quiet day at home, where we draw a line after yet another year, only to realize that the line is in fact more like a circle, and that it goes round and round like a rotor that won’t stop until its organic engine breaks, changing us without changing us, taking us a long way only to make us understand we have to return where we started, in perpetual company with our own self.
Because birthdays are continuations more than anything else, and they’re not even milestones, unless we let our minds make them so. Therefore, I here proclaim “Happy continuation day to me!“