Happy Birthday To Me -or- I’m Smarter Than An Infant
Today marks my 47th year on this earth. On October1st, 1969 at 4:30 (Atlantic Time) I came into the world at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, 21 inches tall. Yes, 21 inches. My dreams of making the neonatal basketball team were dashed that day by 3 inches. Regardless, here I am, a lot taller, a lot heavier and with a helluva lot more life experience.
It was a low key celebration today, as most of my birthdays are. I guess you reach a certain age and birthdays lose a bit of luster. It just becomes jumbled in with the other 364 days of the year. If it weren’t for Mark Zuckerberg, most of you wouldn’t even know it was my birthday. Still, I thank you for all the well wishes on my Facebook page. But aren’t we a bit arrogant in celebrating our births anyway? I mean, it’s not like we did anything. That credit rightfully goes to our mothers. They’re the ones that did all the work. We just slid out and expected to be waited on.
To me, birthdays are a day of reflection. A time to look inward on who you’ve become and what direction we’re going in life. I’m not really one for a lot of attention on my birthday or any other time for that matter. And surprise birthday parties are a definite no no for me. This is MY day where others play by MY uncontested rules. Or rather they should. One day out of 365 isn’t too much to ask.
I guess that’s one of my quirks. I don’t like attention and I don’t take praise very well either. It’s awkward and makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m also one of the few people you’ll meet who hate encouragement. It trips me up. I remember a time about twenty some odd years ago when I was enjoying a rare evening of bowling with my family at an alley in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was having a great night. It was strike after strike. It was unbelievable! I was heading toward a perfect game!! I had garnered the attention of many people in other lanes that night. I recall a young Asian man in the lane next to us casually tossing me a compliment on my form. My form? I was completely faking it, making it up as I went along. He gave me some unsolicited advice on how I should hold the ball. I dryly thanked the man and lined up for my next throw. Gutter ball! So much for a perfect game. For the rest of the night even a spare was elusive. Maybe my failure was a one-off and my luck would change.
Flash forward to 2007. I was in a gun range just north of Toronto with a Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol in my hand. Never held a gun in my life and here I am cutting out the centre of the target with James Bond-like precision. It was a great day… until (cue the ominous music). An experienced gun-nut of an instructor came up behind me and got the class’s attention. “Look here”, he barked. “This is how it’s done!” He was talking about me! I was shocked when all the other targets rolled in and mine was by far the most accurately perforated. Then came that damned compliment that brought it all to a screeching halt. “Great job!”, he lauded. After that I’d be lucky if I got 5 out of twenty rounds anywhere near the centre of mass. I felt like Charlie Brown going after the football held by Lucy’s steady hand.
I’ve received compliments and encouragement throughout my life. It’s certainly not that I don’t appreciate people noticing my skill and hard work. But in the end I’m just being me. I do what I do and I don’t expect a pat on the back for just being me. I know my limits and by now I know who I am also. I like being left alone to do what I do but at the same time I thrive in a team environment. Just don’t compliment me or all is lost!!
I look beyond 47 with calculated enthusiasm. It used to be unbridled enthusiasm but my brain auto-corrects it to “calculated”. I feel like I’m on the right track. I have a great and rewarding (and secure) job. I have good friends and a loving family. I’m still living pay check to pay check but who isn’t in this economy. There are still so may things I want to do, including many artistic projects that I’ve had to shelve for a time while I focus on my kids’ development. They’re 5 and 7 years old right now but I figure at the rate they’re gleaning knowledge from my wife and I and their general environment, they’ll be moved out and living on their own in about three more years.
Here’s to the future!!