With little fanfare, and no candles, I quietly passed into my 26th year yesterday.
Whether emailing all of your friends, posting a Myspace bulletin and blog piece count as “quiet” is perhaps a debate for another day, as I like to think it was peaceful and respectful.
My little idea of raising a hundred or so pounds for the Trust by asking for donations in place of gifts has blown me away ever so slightly. At last check, justgiving.com/oli25 was running at a massive £320, with pledges of more to come from a few corners.
It has truly over-whelmed me the number of people who have donated – especially people who I know wouldn’t have been buying me anything anyway. It means so much to me that they donated something anyway, I’ve been really touched by everyone’s response.
Thanks also to everyone who sent me birthday messages and good wishes.
I had a great day, being spoiled rotten by K all day long, with breakfast specially prepared fresh from the shop, all fresh and delicious, plus a spectacular act of rule-breaking in the most fantastic fashion including a furry orange book about the making of Avenue Q, the puppet musical I’ve become slightly obsessed with.
For the first time in a really long time, I’ve got new DVDs to add to my collection, including a few I’ve wanted to see for a really long time and a classic I really should have seen but have never got around to.
Birthdays are amazing things. They serve to remind you of all the joy you have in your life, all the people who mean something to you and to whom you mean something in return.
So many people complain so much about reaching another birthday – I guess fearful of the on-coming of old age. I don’t know where it comes from, other than an age-old, in-built fear of getting closer to losing something, whether it be your faculties or your life.
It’s always struck me, though, that people look at birthdays the wrong way. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been forced into a position where every passing year counts as a true blessing, but I don’t understand why people choose to fear their birthdays rather than embrace them.
Every year of our lives brings new adventures. It brings new experiences, new people, new wonders we know little of when we celebrate the passing of another 12 months. Every day that goes by we learn something new, we grow as a person and we extend our life beyond what it was the day before.
Surely that’s an amazing thing – so why don’t people see it and appreciate it for what it is? Is it that every year that passes we slip into more of a groove of comfort wherein everything blurs together into one homogenous experience? Do we learn over time an inability to distinguish the wood from the proverbial trees?
The saddest thing in life is when a person stops seeing the beauty that surrounds them and the experiences they are open to. Childhood is seen as the happiest time of our lives, because that’s when we take in the wonder of the world and see things for the first time – the time when we don’t think we’ve seen it all before and are eager to take it all in.
Adulthood shouldn’t be about getting bored of the same old things around us, it should be a time when we can use our years of experience and perspective to take hold of the things in life that really matter and put aside the thoughts of the things that don’t.
We should take each passing year as an opportunity to do the things we want to do, go the places we want to go, see the things we want to see, but more than anything, to not let the world blinker us to it’s beauty and ever-changing wonder simply because it’s become familiar to us.
Tomorrow morning, I want you to look out of your window when you draw back your curtains and really notice the things you can see outside it. If it’s dull and grey and there’s rain falling down, don’t let your heart sink, but turn your thoughts to the amazing way the falling water changes the way you see the street, the way the light falls differently. Take note of the things you see everyday, but look closer and find a detail you’ve not seen before.
And when you go downstairs and you greet your loved one(s), take a moment to appreciate what they bring to your life. Take a moment to think about what they’ve brought into your world that’s made you who you are. As Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote,
“I am part of all that I have met.”