A couple of years ago some one said to me, “One way to know that you are evolving spiritually is when you stop celebrating your birthday.” At the time I thought, “You know what, he’s probably right, celebrating one’s birthday just reinforces the ego—it’s just a shallow expression of narcissism, a pathetic plea for recognition, acknowledgement, and affection.” It’s one thing to have birthday parties for kids. Kids are still cultivating a sense of self and need to be the center of attention sometimes to build self esteem. But what about adults? At some point don’t we just need to grow up, get over ourselves, to accept that our birthday is just another day and that we are not the center of the Universe? Isn’t that a sign of maturity, of spiritual evolution?
The Sun, as we all know, is the center of our solar system. When we experience our annual Solar Return (birthday) we want to be like the Sun, the center around which everything revolves. Growing up in my family, birthdays have always been celebrated by family get togethers, presents, a cake, and the obligatory rendition of “Happy Birthday.” This always seemed quite normal to me. After all, it was only one day out of the year, and, as the saying goes, “every dog has its day.”
Last year on my birthday, my wife and daughter went skiing and left me alone. At 6pm on my birthday I was sitting alone at home thinking, “This is the most pathetic birthday ever,” and wishing I was more spiritually evolved. In desperation I called a couple of friends to come over and keep me company so I didn’t feel like such a loser.
This year, weeks before my birthday, my wife, Carol, said to me, “We should have a nice party this year to celebrate you 60th birthday.” I was shocked, especially after my experience last year. A part of me wanted to say, “I’m too spiritually evolved for such a thing,” but I knew it wasn’t true, so I said, “Okay, honey.” In our household “having a nice party” means that my wife does all the planning because, when it comes to these things, I’m just a small step beyond the Neanderthals. So, Carol chose a local restaurant to host the party, selected a menu and wines, and decided on the entertainment for the evening—which would include a fortune teller and a slide show documenting the first 60 years of my life.
Carol began to pour through old photographs, looking specifically for the most embarrassing shots she could find to document family history, bad hairstyles and fashion choices, compromising situations, and progressive weight gain.
The end result of it all was an amazing party that was lots of fun, with many of my dearest friends from far and wide. I was both duly celebrated and ridiculed in a way that felt very balanced, and I came away from it all feeling very blessed to have had such a wonderful life so far. My only regret is that the guest list was limited to 60 people and there were many other friends I would have liked to invite. Thanks to all my dear friends and family for all of the love and support over the years, and for making my 60th birthday a memorable one. My apologies for not being more spiritually evolved.