Today is October 5th, 2013: My 44th birthday.
Truth be told, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve made it this far. Especially when you consider the fact that it was only yesterday when I was the youthful teenager laughing hysterically at my parents for being in their 40’s.
I suppose there’s a certain sense of immortality you have when you’re younger that lets you make fun of your elder’s age without fear of retribution (or karma ever catching up with you).
Little did I know.
When we’re young, the whole world seems to be filled with endless possibility, and I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the chance to break free and start my future. The only problem was, that future always seemed like it would never get here.
Last night, I stumbled upon my 1980 Easton Area Middle School ID Badge under a pile of old memories and immediately recalled the day I first received it. Although I didn’t care much for the goofy grinning picture of myself on the front, I do remember it was what was printed on the back of the worn, laminated card that really caught my attention.
For the first time, I saw the words “YR GRAD-87” and believed that the year of my high school graduation (1987) was so very far away. To this shy, cheesy-grinned, eleven-year old boy, seven years seemed like seventy and the idea of me one day living in the year 2000 was equivalent to being in a Star Wars movie. It was impossible for me to even comprehend it ever happening.
Fast forward, and here I am celebrating a birthday twenty-six years post graduation and nearly fourteen years beyond 2000. A brand new century. When did I close my eyes and wake up a middle-aged man? Back in 1980, it seemed like all I had was time and now, it sometimes feels like time is running out. Why just the other day, I was given the sad news about a high school classmate who had unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43.
If what you’ve read so far sounds a bit depressing or makes you feel old, I apologize. This post wasn’t meant to bum you out.
On the contrary, 2013 has actually been one of the best years of my life. In just these last few months I’ve been able to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do with a dear friend – write and publish my very first book.
In addition to that, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write articles with many of the artists and performers I admire most. A pipe dream for the little boy you see in the above picture.
I’ve also made a conscious decision to start doing something different for my birthday every year. Beginning this October, I’ll be using my age number as a benchmark to do something to help others in some way. This year, I decided to use the equivalent of my age (44) in dollars and use it to hopefully put a smile on a sick child’s face.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll take the “45” and divide it up into hours; donating my time over the course of the month to volunteering or raising money for charity. Then maybe at “46” I’ll donate forty-six signed copies of my #1 New York Times Bestseller (hey, it could happen) to a charity auction. Nothing is too small and anything is something.
Which got me to thinking, what if every one of us did something similar? How about instead of just receiving well wishes and birthday cards for making it through another year, what if every person used their own special day as an opportunity to do something for the greater good? Instead of making it a day all about ourselves, what if we made part of our day about helping someone else? One day set aside that you’ll always remember (I mean, how could you forget? After all, it IS your birthday). What better feeling can there possibly be than knowing you made this world a better place, and did it on the day you were born!
Here are some ideas of things you can do to really “celebrate” your birthday:
1. Volunteer a few hours of your time at a local food bank/soup kitchen/animal shelter.
2. Walk (or run) in a marathon to raise money for research.
3. Spend part of your day gathering up unused clothing to donate to a needy family.
According to my calculations, most good work would be done on September 16th (the most common birthday) and the least, February 29th (leap year).
As for me? Well, you can add candle #44 to that birthday cake. This year, I’d like us all to imagine a world where someone is doing something to help someone else, every single day of the year.
Impossible? Maybe. But then again, that’s what I used to think about 1987 and 2000 too.