Bedtime stories were read. My daughter was snuggled happily under the covers. The lights were out, and I was lying next to her, holding her as we looked at her brand new Cinderella light. Glitter swirled and twinkled in the blue light, scattering patterns on the ceiling.
“Did you have a good day today?” I asked.
“Oh, Mama, it was the best birthday ever! And I want to stay up all night looking at my Cinderella light.”
I smiled. “It is beautiful. It reminds me of when I was younger and I would spend countless hours daydreaming by the Christmas tree, looking at the patterns the lights made on the ceiling.”
Children embrace their birthdays with such enthusiasm. They are excited to celebrate their day with their friends and family. They are excited to celebrate and share the joy of their lives with the people they love.
While my daughter’s thoughts probably drifted to dreams of princesses, fancy dresses and towering castles, my thoughts drifted to “birthdays” and the differences in the way children and adults view their special day.
Where do we lose the childhood simplicity of a celebration of life shared with others? Isn’t that what a birthday is about—celebrating life?
When do we get more concerned with how old we are—and eventually, hiding our age—than with celebrating our lives? Is it when we start to look for milestones like being old enough for a driver’s license or reaching the legal drinking age? When we measure our lives by milestones, the ones in the middle don’t seem so all that appealing—age for first colonoscopy, for instance. So, I’m not sure milestones and good measure of life.
Measuring our lives in milestones means living in quantity rather than quality, and in all that quantity, we lose sight of what is really important: living each day in such a way that we make the world a better place. When we forget to live that way, we forget all the wonderful things we have to share with friends and family on that one day of the year that is our birthday.
I think we do need milestones and goals, they can give direction and keep us out of trouble, but if all we have are milestones and goals with nothing in between, then our lives are not going to be terribly full.
Perhaps, as usual we should take our cues from the children, and try to live a life—day by day—that is so full and wonderful every birthday we have will be the “best birthday ever”.
Can we do it? Can we live life so that our next birthday is “the best birthday ever”? And the one after that? And the next? It might be worth a try.
© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.