I still remember the day I turned four. Not the whole day, just this one image: jumping up and down, arms in the air, shouting “I’m four, I’m four!”
Birthdays change as you get older.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited. But the arms-in-the-air excitement has become more like, “Hey, cool, it’s my birthday.” The craving for a giant party with people and balloons and cake and presents has waned a little. Not that I’ve stopped liking presents or cake (or balloons!). It’s just…different, now. The birthday celebrations become A Good Thing, rather than The Greatest Thing I Can Possibly Imagine, Ever™.
Part of it, I guess, is the presents. My wife tells me every year that I’m impossible to buy for, and she’s right. I already have everything I want. My bookshelves are crammed with books I love, my computer has an Internet connection, my roof doesn’t leak, and I’m married to a woman who’s excited about buying me presents. What more could a man want?
There are things I want, of course. I want to be a better writer and a better programmer (and a better person). I want a functioning artificial intelligence. I want an extra six hours in every day to work on my projects. Zen enlightenment would be, in the words of Master Bodhidharma, “hella sweet.”
Last time I went to Walmart they were fresh out of Zen enlightenment. I’m hoping they start stocking it on ThinkGeek.
Birthdays are changing in another way, too. I get more and more “happy birthdays” from corporations. This morning I got a birthday e-mail from ING – you know, the bank. (It even linked to a YouTube video, which, surprisingly, was pretty excellent.) And because Facebook knows my birthday too, I get lots of kind wishes from people who don’t necessarily talk to me any other time of the year. None of this is bad, but it is slightly surreal.
Still, there is one way this birthday trumps anything I had as a kid. As it happens, 27 is my lucky number. I don’t know why. There’s no special reason. But for as long as I can remember, 27 just felt right to me.
Starting today, I am my lucky number.
It’s going to be a good year.