How old am I?
My grandson, Jory, celebrated his tenth birthday in June. He talked about nothing else for weeks prior to the momentous day − a recipe for disappointment, I believe – though, if that’s what it was, he seemed to take it in stride.
“What’s your favorite day of the year?” I asked, a week before the anticipated day.
Today, one month after his birthday, I ask him what he remembers about it. He thinks long and hard, then says:
“I went to Golden Corral.”
I ask, “How about your ninth birthday? Do you remember it?”
He searches his mind, then: “No.”
More searching. “No.”
I can’t remember my tenth birthday. Are birthdays occasions one should remember? I know that while growing up, most every birthday was acknowledged with a special cake spiked with candles, and then ice cream, cards, a gift, and a song. I’m sure those occasions were enjoyable, and stood out from the days before and after, so shouldn’t I remember them?
Do you remember your tenth birthday? Your fifth? Fifteenth? Twentieth? Thirtieth? I don’t.
It doesn’t really matter to me that I don’t remember my birthdays. They come and go − no big deal. But this day (your birthday) comes once a year. It could potentially act as a marker, like those on a ruler, to provide you with a clearer sense of whom you are, where you came from, what happened when.
My life is one big blob, starting near the end of 1953, and extending to the present. I often find myself wrestling with a particular memory, trying to fit it into its proper chronological place. I want my past to be divided into neat, uniform increments that I can glance at and know where everything is and how it all fits together. Birthdays should do this, but they don’t. They’re forgettable because they’re too predictable. If I don’t get a handle on this thing soon, it’ll become hopeless. It’s time to start living less predictably.