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Happy Birthday to Both of Me

Another birthday is on approach. It will hit the landing strip of my life early next week.

I’m of two minds about it.

My wife never knows which one of my bimodal selves is going to pop up next: the 8-year-old imp who will ring the doorbell just as she’s getting out of the shower (late again!) 12 minutes before dinner guests are due to arrive, or the serious, creative adult professional having a wonderful but intense time building and juggling three overlapping careers.

The imp is jumping up and down, wanting a peek at the birthday cake. This is one of those BIG birthdays, so he also wants gifts and a party.

In fact my wife has invited 24 people for a poolside dinner to celebrate the event. He’s so excited he’s waking up at night in anticipation.

The serious adult professional stopped acknowledging birthdays a long time ago.

It isn’t that birthdays aren’t nice, but they don’t have the same tang as in his youth, when his extended family showed up and he was, however briefly, the center of attention. He’s not sure how much he likes being the center of attention any more.

And on top of that, there’s always the concern, in our youth-obsessed culture, that older will not necessarily be perceived as better.

In any case, after considering perspectives from both poles, the integrated imp and adult self have come to a conclusion.

Earlier birthdays were validating in and of themselves, but later birthdays are for celebrating. These days, validation comes from lots of other, more meaningful places than an arbitrary date on the calendar.

Next Monday I’m ready to revel.

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