On Life and Birthdays

It’s 6:50 am on my birthday. Usually I’d already be dressed for work,  but I figure I’d stop and reflect because I may not the time later.

The girl from Vladivostok is next to me, and she seems far more excited than I am about today, making party plans for tomorrow, drawing up a guest list (crossing out names more like, since I want it small). It’s typical. I’ve never been one for much fanfare about my birthday, and I suspect that were it not for the excitement of the people around me, I’d barely think of it.

I got a call from my brother, a tradition at this point. I have a second tradition, which may or may not happen. I’m praying it does.

Here are the thoughts that have me reflecting. Someone asked a question yesterday: what would you do if you knew, to the day, that you’d be dead in exactly one year?

Now, perhaps it’s because of the occasion,  but that thought has been at the back of my mind since then. In the past one year, I practically did nothing but bury my face in work. I cut down on everything else, the stuff most people, at least from college used to know me for: the parties, the girls, drugs, the general recklessness. I realize I don’t even miss them much. I love the energy I’m pouring into many things I care about now, and I hope to do something interesting soon with a few of them. Life has changed tunes, and I love the new song.

This year, I finally also stopped mourning the death of my mother. It took six years for the shock and pain to finally dissipate, and for me to feel alive again. No one knows what that felt like, what I felt all that time because I never discussed it with anyone, not family, not friends, no one. I didn’t make an active choice to keep them out, I just could not bring myself to think, let alone talk, about it. Even now, the best way to summarize it is to say that I felt I died a violent death on the inside and had to go through life knowing I was already dead. It’s honestly how I felt. I had no feeling, no emotion, no connection to anything around me, I simply walked and talked and ate, and fucked. Yes, I was the life of every party, the rebel who had no fear of anything or anyone, but it’s easy to have no fear when you don’t care if you lived or died.

But now, I feel very much alive. And if not happy, content. I might still be a rebel, but I’m rebelling against the right things now. I’m more controlled about some things, more focused on others. I’m ending some relationships, and preparing myself for something more permanent and committed. I’m entering a new phase.

And so when it boils down to it, if I knew for certain I was going to die in exactly a year? There’s not much I’d do differently. I plan my life, like everyone else. But I’ve known, since that night six years ago, that you really only have today. You’d hope you’re around tomorrow, but that’s not really promised. No one really knows what will happen. So if what you’re doing today isn’t important , then don’t do it. Do the thing you really want to do.

What lessons have I picked up so far?

To never give in to fear. Fear is the mind killer. Everything is infinitely possible, we’re only limited by our own convictions. There’s no one, no place, no thing that I have a fear of, and that has made a big difference for me.

I hope this year to do a lot more for others, as many people have done for me. If I have anything in the way of a resolution, that’d be it.

I love everything about life so far, and I hope it only gets better.

Happy birthday to me.


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