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Some Thoughts On Birthdays

Updated on October 31, 2016

Why celebrate only birthdays?

I have just lost another year of my life. Today May 28 is my birthday. So is it the appropriate occasion to celebrate? Call me a cynic if you wish. When one is getting real old each year, should not it be wise to step back and do some serious contemplation instead of “celebrate”?

I shall do some contemplation here. Has life been kind to me? Have I lived a life full of happiness and achievements? If you asked different people what they thought of their lives you would have quite interesting stories to compile into an interesting "best-seller" book.

Each day I thank my good fortune of being healthy and still kicking. When one is past 60, each day alive is a bonus. In a way then, I must celebrate this day as I have enjoyed another one full year of bonus of being alive! Honestly, there are only two things in my life that I am grateful for; my good health and my forever tolerant wife.

Do you know the meaning of this word “senescence”?

Do you know the meaning of this word “senescence”? You may not even find this word in the dictionary. The word “senescence” is a noun with the meaning “the process or the state of growing old.”

When one realizes senescence, one can be said to have arrived in life. Time seems to fly at great speed. When I was young, “10 years” seemed to be a century. Now, “10 years” means the end of my life! The result of senescence is to be able to “contemplate on the toilet roll”. What? Yes “toilet roll”. Go take a look at the toilet roll in your toilet. It may be a new roll, or used up halfway, or almost finished. If you start pulling the toilet paper, you will see the whole roll moving. If it is a full roll, then the rate of rolling is very slow. If the toilet roll is almost finished, then the rate of rolling will be very fast and if you continue to pull, it will stop in no time because there is no toilet paper anymore. Contemplating senescence is to realize that one has not much time left.

An interesting ancient Chinese tradition

So what is the great deal of celebrating a birthday when one is old? According to ancient Chinese tradition, only the elders celebrate birthdays. In traditional Chinese family structure, the patriarch or matriarch was the head of the family hierarchy. Only they could celebrate their birthdays. And they had very good reasons to celebrate. The moral ethics of filial piety was the foundation and backbone of every Chinese family. During those times, when one has grown old, there were good reasons to celebrate one’s birthday to invite guests and relatives to witness the success and harmony of the family unit with filial children attending to the patriarch or matriarch.

So come to think of it, most of you senior readers will have good reasons to celebrate your “old-age” birthdays! So, go ahead and celebrate! But should we go one step further?

Should we go one step further?

This message may be of interest to those above 50 years of age. And if you are past 60 like me, this becomes an urgent message. Irrespective of what life has dished out to us, there is still one further step that we may want to take before we arrived finally at our “destination”. Maybe you have already taken this extra step. Congratulations! This will be my personal mission towards my last journey in life. As I wrote earlier, the greatest gift in my life is I am still healthy and kicking. Whatever that had happened in my past years, good and bad, let them come to pass. Whatever that is happening to me right now, good and bad, let it be. Is there anything left to be done in my life? Yes! To be of service to others, especially in their times of need and distress. Alone by myself will be just like a single bee, powerless and ineffective. But if millions of bees gather together, the power and influence are astronomical. So I shall join the millions of kind people who are inspiring others with their pure hearts and great love in action.

Having lived a happy and fulfilling life for oneself and for the family is indeed a very fortunate experience. But can you see; we are restricting our contributions and experience within a very narrow confines in our lives? If we look beyond this narrow space of our lives, we can see the vastness of creation and how we can be a relevant part of this creation. We can make ourselves useful beyond the confines of the family. Then we can behold ourselves and declare, “I have indeed lived a life of total fulfilment; helping others, creating goodwill and inspire others to walk the right path”.

My mission at this stage of my life

My mission now is to “celebrate” my life every minute, and not once in a year. The foundation of this “celebration” lies in the “purification” of this self. No, I am not a “born-again” Christian, changing into a perfect angel overnight! It will be a long and arduous journey to reduce the piles of my negative afflictions; reducing the Big ego in me, and learn to put into actions, the thoughts of compassion, thereby inspiring others to walk this path of pure and great love. It is a tall order indeed! Never mind, start with the first step. Just Do It!

Hope you too, can be inspired to become one with this worldwide community of "Great Love" planting good seeds of "Compassion Relief".

What is this mission? (CLICK HERE)

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    • Good Guy profile image

      Justin Choo 18 months ago from Malaysia

      Good evening Vladimir Karas. Good to listen to advice from an elder. Thanks for sharing. May you always be healthy and active. And of course be always happy!

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 18 months ago from Canada

      Justin - I am 71, and my birthday is in December, so I still have many toilet rolls to contemplate on. Just kidding - I love this illustration of a life truism. However, in my kind of rolls, I am using them from those close to the core outwards. I don't think in terms of the time passing, but time remaining, and I set up my life expectancy for 125 years - if I'll be in a mood for dying by then.

      For one thing, it's our mind playing usual tricks on us - we can scan over decades in a fraction of a second, and if nothing much exciting has been happening, it's even easier to scan though that sameness.

      And for the other thing it's our hormones leaving us - if we let them. Our emotional "hygiene" can do wonders to keep those little bastards circulate our bloodstream and make us younger than our chronological age.

      All in all, "every day is the first day of the rest of our life", and if we choose to call it "birthday", then CHEERS JUSTIN! Happy Birthday to all of us young old-timers! And many more toilet rolls to use, not to think about for the next few decades!

    • profile image

      Mae Yap Meng 18 months ago

      Me three, I'm also your age or maybe older. For me, it's also just a Dream. Dream on.....

    • Good Guy profile image

      Justin Choo 18 months ago from Malaysia

      Hi Gary,

      Me too, never had any formal celebration. Usually people my age, birthday celebrations are arranged by the filial children. For me, it's just a dream. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Gary Kang 18 months ago

      Up to now, I never had a formal birthday celebration simply because I don't believe in celebrating.

      If anyone insist of celebrating my birthday, cook me a 'mee suah nen' will do....this is typical Hokkien people's way of birthday celebration.