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I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Everyone has one. Some embrace it, while others try to avoid it or downplay it. Some use the day to bring attention to themselves – others prefer privacy or blending in or even celebrating others instead of themselves. Out of 366 possibilities, each of us only one day is recognized for us.
Birthdays are associated with a celebration, dinner, party, cake, ice cream, gifts, cards, and wishes. Children look forward to their day with anticipation – but I’ve got the feeling that cake, ice cream, gifts, and attention are factors. For the record, my birthday is not the day I publish this post, but it may be on the day you read this. Alright, it’s on the 17th.
Some say birthdays are for the young because birthdays are harder to accept when we are older, but others embrace birthdays more as they age. Some see a birthday as a special occasion, but some see it as just another day. Bottom line is that it comes down to the fact that each of us treats them differently.
For each of us, birthdays are an identity. They are a common-asked question verifying who we are. Birthdays are something we write on many applications and forms. Birthdays are a date that eventually will be inscribed on a tombstone.
Certain birthdays are landmarks or a rite of passage as the age for legally driving, voting, or drinking. It seems some birthdays ending in a zero or a five signify a milestone.
Birthdays are also an opportunity to reflect on life. Birthdays can also be a trigger or prompt to one’s time tunnel of the past. Perhaps someone younger would be looking ahead and wondering about their future.
I like my birthday, but I’m picky because it is one day – not the day before, not the day after, not the weekend before or after – just one day on that day. If a card arrives early, I save opening it until the day – but I immediately open the late ones. I most appreciate phone calls on the day – but texts and emails on the day are also good. Early birthday wishes are only OK, but late is better than never.
I’m more of the private type when it comes to my birthday. I discovered I shared a birthday with a student, but we kept it a secret between us – then we smiled on the day. Once a pharmacy tech asked my birthday before giving me the prescription. She paused, smiled, and said that was also her birthday. So for a few years, I would stop by to wish her a happy birthday. One time when talking with a stranger, we discovered we shared a birthday.
These days, there is a downside to my birthdays. Because it falls during my snowbird season, I’m away from my typical surroundings and friends. Most of my friends do not know my birthday – but that’s OK because seeing them on my day is a present for me they unknowingly give. But, we are apart on my day.
Being away from home, the odds of receiving cards on my birthday are slim – but away from home, I understand that. Besides, some may arrive late. I doubt if I get any phone calls, but I imagine receiving several emails and texts. They surprise me every once in a while. My wife will also share with me birthday wishes that come through her on Facebook.
While away, I make the best of it – and I established a new tradition by taking a beach walk alone in the pre-dawn light with hopes of seeing a sunrise. First walking east and keeping my eyes on the horizon because I didn’t want to miss the moment. Early morning is typically low tide, so the sand is flat. The early morning air is fresh and brisk, so I’m usually in shorts and probably long sleeves to cover my arms. People are few and far between. It is a peaceful time – a time for a golden personal moment – a good time for reflection.
The reflections are usually about the past – people, places, and events. Just a time for me to relish – my time on my day – a time being alone with a gentle breeze and the pre-dawn light while water gently washes across my feet.
Birthdays are a personalized once a year reward – so rewarding myself with a private, personalized early morning beach walk is a personalized reward I give myself. For me, it is a great way to start my day. The heron picture serving as the backdrop for this space is from my day in 2018.
While walking back after the 2018 birthday sunrise, I recall a flock of seagulls standing on the beach. They started squawking as if they were singing “Happy Birthday” – then stopped as I passed. Now that’s perfect timing.
People with holiday birthdays – green cards for St. Patrick’s Day birthdays – red one for Valentine’s Day – something with fireworks on the fourth of July. Those with late December birthdays feel cheated because of their day being too close to Christmas – so some have a summer celebration. At least my birthday is nondescript.
In the days of printed commonly used newspapers, I remember checking my birthday horoscope, on this date in history, and a list of other people sharing my birthday. The formation of the PTA and Baltimore being the first city with gas streetlights has stuck with me – let alone Hal Holbrook and Michael Jordan.
Having a birthday always gives us a Zodiac sign. I’m Aquarius – the water bearer, while my wife is Pisces – the fish. I laugh at the thought that the fish requires water to live.
I imagine most of us have seen a placemat at a Chinese restaurant featuring the 12 symbols of the Chinese calendar. I was born in the year of the snake. Sensibility, calm, and wisdom fit my personality. I also share the snake sign with Taylor Swift, Muhammad Ali, Charles Darwin, JFK, Picasso, Copernicus, and Oprah to name a few.
Birthdays identify each of us, plus everyone handles them differently. In my mind, a worthy topic for pondering while I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about beaches
- Another Birthday (essay)
- Haibun-ish for a Birthday (poem)
- How to Completely Change Your Birthday (essay)
- Solo Birthday (poem)
- Thoughts on My Birthday Today (poem)
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