Julia: “I can’t believe I’ve been around this long!” I had just woken up to another of those big 0 birthdays.
Friends thought I was talking about being ‘old’, but I wasn’t. I really was thinking, “Wow, I’ve been here for a long time!”
So how come I’m not perfect at this thing called “living” – I’ve been doing it for long enough! Yet, I still do silly things like forget to take clothes to the dry cleaners, or turn up at the wrong venue, or even eat two meals because I’d double-booked myself for lunch.
I put this waywardness down to my mind being full of so many completely unrelated thoughts: “The frangipani tree looks miserable, shall I move it over to the garden wall? Oh, but then I’ll have to move the palm.” Or, “I’ll write to Mrs C and bring her up to date with her son’s progress, then I’ll speak to his class teacher.” Or, “I’ll get the dogs’ food, then I can ask the vet about inoculations.”
My thinking overload goes on and on, from the biggest issues, like “Which subject should our daughter study at university?” to the silliest little things like, “I must put soap in the guest bathroom.”
I sporadically try to stem this stream of irrational forgetfulness with spurts of meditation, or lots of caffeine, or with a stab at a strategy like ‘time and motion’. Some of these methods work some of the time, but, of course, all of them fail most of the time.
So I’m left with the haunting question; “How come I’m not better at this thing called living?”
Hoi Yee: This year, I didn’t celebrate my husband’s birthday because his brother-in-law was in town with five other visitors in tow. They called up my husband that day and asked to be taken out to dinner that night. He did not say no. He never says no to family. It’s an Asian thing. So, I abandoned him to that dinner where he picked up the bill. His job was done. Er, happy birthday?
When I turned thirty, my then boyfriend forgot my birthday. He was proud of forgetting it. It was traumatic for me, though.
My mother never remembers my birthday. She doesn’t remember any of her five children’s birthdays.
Yet, I have gifts always ready for the endless parties that my baby son is invited to. For my son’s recent birthday, 25 children enjoyed the games, gifts, and party food. His birthday cake was a gigantic two foot high Monster Truck that was a result of two weeks of careful and secret planning.
When in life do birthday’s wane in importance? Birthdays seems to follow an inverted bell curve that stops ringing somewhere in the middle. When does that curve start picking up again?
This week was my birthday. My husband surprised me with a stunning dinner, my staff joined together to wish me well…and Mother called to simply say ‘Happy Birthday.’ I think I’ve started moving upward on the curve this year.