The hands on the clock criss and cross and criss again, the sun sets and it rises and it shines so bright it hurts, the pages on a calendar fly by leaf by leaf and weeks turn to months and then the weeks turn into a year and before you know it you are back where you started. In the same place, on the same earth going round the same sun at the same pace and magically you find yourself at just that point in the orbit when the world was blessed by the coming into being of one just like you
On this day 24 years ago I caused a lovely woman so much pain that having me out must have been one of the happiest moments of her life , I know she found it in her heart to forgive me. The first day of yet another trip around the sun as a person possessed of incurable wit would put it. I like that analogy, I like thinking that I am at the same place I have been at 23 times so far, I know that the physics probably doesn't work like that, maybe the sun moves, or the orbit of the earth isn't tracked to the same line every year but I like the idea of coming back to where I started off, finding my way back to just this spot in the huge hairy universe without having to think about it, just having to be, to live. I like thinking that life rewards you even for just standing still, “don't worry,” life says, “just for being there, just for standing there let me show you a place you have been before.”
I don't know what life has taught me, I if I was asked for wise words I would say that all you ever need is the approval of one other person. The whole world can be against you but if you have the voice and the heart and the help of just one on your side it makes things not only easier but possible. Nobody can push a boulder up a mountain without getting tired and needing a hand, life can feel like a boulder a lot of the times. You push and push and when you look up where you are is exactly where you were. As a consequence I have this long running tradition, on the day on which I was given birth, at the exact moment that I arrived on this nearly too elliptical world I go outside and look at the sun. Right then I think about how true it is that when I look up I really am exactly where I began.
I wish that was true. That whole anecdote about me going outside to look at the sun, it seems like a really deep and powerful birthday tradition to have and I wish I hadn't thought it up so late. Maybe then I would have timed the sun and walked out at that time (which for some reason I believe to be 9.30 a.m.) I could have looked up and thought, “see you again from here next year,” but that didn't happen, instead as that time rolled around I was deep into a handout of notes on intellectual property law. It really is fucked to have exams on your birthday.
There are three possible ways to spend a birthday without feeling sad. One is in deep reflection about the person you have been and are becoming, an honest exploration of the choices you made and the reasons behind them. A promise to try harder and to shift your priorities if they are wrong or keep tight hold of them if you think they aren't. You can be wise and contemplative, feed your spirit. You can get a jump on wisdom.
Another thing you can do is spoil yourself, or let yourself be spoiled, what is it you want to buy? Who is it you want to see? Where is it you want to be? Guilt all of those things your way. Don't be coy about accepting free gifts and delight in every call you get, go on facebook and see how many people took time out of their lives to post something on your wall, remember they could have been doing something else with that precious ten seconds but they spent it on you, say thank you for all those birthday wishes, happiness is not a bad thing even if it comes out of vanity.
The third option is to forget it entirely, not pretend to forget but actually forget, get so wrapped up in school or work, in exams or deadlines that the day passes quietly into night without so much as a whisper that it was anything different.
Today was my birthday and I chose none of the above. I couldn't celebrate since I have my final university exam tomorrow and until such a time as I am free from the spectre of such things I have put such strict austerity measures on myself Greece could not possibly have a better role model. The third didn’t happen, I know its my birthday, I went to sleep knowing it and I woke up knowing it. The thing about being busy with exams is that dates are important, you know the date of your next paper and you have to write one on your script so its not possible not to know the date of the day. Plus I know and have known for quite a while that I finish exams on June 23rd a day after my birthday so this birthdate has been watched from afar.
The last option is deep reflection, thinking about my life and how it has been over the last year and what I would like to change, what I would like to keep. But I finish school tomorrow and its nearly impossible to separate what I feel because am getting older and what I feel because life has pushed me to the next stage. I keep thinking I was a great 23 year old. I really do. I had all this experience at being 23, I had a year's worth of experience a year's worth of experiences. For a whole year, for sunsets and sunrises, for rainy days and moonless nights, for all of everything that happened for a whole year I was 23. I got to be good at it or at least experienced at it by the time it was coming to an end but now I have all this experience being 23 and there's nowhere to go with it, nothing to do with it. Does being 23 really have anything to do with being 24? I can't help feeling that it doesn't, so there's only one thing I can do with all this garnered experience; bequeath it to someone who just turned 23. but they don't think am nearly wise enough to listen to, they don't think my experiences have anything to do with theirs but I was 23 for a whole year and I got out of it alive, I must be doing something right.
I was happy at 23, I really was. I took a lot of risks and they seemed to pay off a lot of the time and sure there were really fucked up times when I wanted to throw a pillow against a bed(the year when I actually considered property damage is not yet with me.) and I got rained on that year. That sounds suspiciously like a metaphor but its not. It seems like I get caught in the rain every year, and whenever that happens and it rains hard I think to myself “I won't run just because of the rain.” as soon as I think that the rain gets heavier. And then I think its some stupid kind of game because despite all my prior experience I always think to the god of the drops “do your worst” and then it gets heavy. Now its too heavy to run. It's not falling in drops but in sheets and sleet and its always diagonal. It attacks me and gets everywhere. There are few things in life worse than when the rain gets in your undergarments. When it gets in your sock and shoes. When it soaks through your trouser till you're sure that your phone won't work in the morning. And horror of horrors when your boxers are wet. These are all bad things only made worse by the knowledge that home is at least a couple of hours away. At this moment of birthverserries a different man, a better man, a man more prone to learn from unpleasant experiences would resolve to carry an umbrella but that's not me,i am not a wiser man, I am not a more heedful man than I was yesteryear. In fact I feel no different, the year softly shuttered into the next without so much as a stop to let me know that I was supposed to change and so am not sure I did. Am not sure that's a bad thing, or even a true thing. With time people come to realise that change is gradual, that a dripping tap can with time wear down a diamond, I guess that's how we change, not moment to moment exactly but every moment there is something different. Measured between 9.29 and 9.30 nothing is different at least nothing perceptible, but measured between last year and this it could be monumental. All that experience as a 23 year old cannot count for nought. I guess that's it I just have to figure out who's the diamond and who's the tap between me and this world.