I celebrated my birthday early this month; I was able to fly home for a short vacation to the Philippines so I could spend it there.
But what is it about birthdays that make us gather around a cake, blow some candles, and make a wish once a year? Tradition? Congratulation? Or it's because birthdays are always the best reason to have a party?
When I was in high school, I overheard a dear aunt greet another a happy birthday. The celebrant joked that, that day, she was "one year to closer to her grave". She must have felt that she had lived a full life to even joke about it.
Yes, to some, birthdays seem to be a milestone of sorts, that it's a big achievement to have survived another 365 days since the previous celebration. Although I think it's wonderful to have lived longer, birthdays are actually just a measurement of one's biological existence.
For me, what should define our lives are the deeds that we do, the events that we cause to happen, and the memories of us that will stay even after we have passed. It should be a life of meaning and purpose, and not only a life of money and parties.
Years ago, I asked the big boss of the firm where I used to work on how she would like to be remembered. She paused for an answer, probably not expecting such a question from me, or probably not having thought about it at all. Her reply was that she would like to remembered as having made a difference in other people's lives.
So if I ask you now the same question, how would you answer?
I'm sure you can come up with a beautifully prosed reply, but I think the real question should be: how will everyone actually remember you?
So, aside from the traditional cakes and candles, why don't we celebrate our existence with good deeds that will eventually define us. And in case you fail today, you can always make up for in the next 364 days.
Happy birthday to me. And you.