I had a friend in middle school who was driven to be the first person to wish me a happy birthday. I don’t know if it was just with me, or all her friends, but she carried this on for many years, after I’d moved away from my hometown, then gone off to college, well after our paths had diverged.
On the other hand, I could never really remember anyone’s birthday. I mean, I remember my brother and sister’s, but to be honest I have trouble with my parents’. It was just not something that my brain was interested in holding on to. Of course at the time, the geeky, budding engineer in me mused on ways to “solve” that problem, like creating a spreadsheet or calendar of all my friends’ birthdays. But that entailed tedious upkeep, and it wouldn’t solve the problem of alerting me on the day.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that birthdays just aren’t that important, except maybe between parents and children (for obvious reasons). So I decided to cease fretting about it. Likewise, I dropped any pretense of expecting people to remember my birthday or go out of their way to wish me a happy one. Especially as we get older, I figure if the birthday-haver wants some recognition on their day, they ought to make that known a few days prior.
I have a vague memory of someone once telling me that their experience of Facebook consists almost entirely of wishing people—many whom they’ve long since fallen out of contact with, except on Facebook—a happy birthday. It was at that moment I realized that Facebook was a socially-challenged geek’s solution to the problem that my middle school self had once posed: how the heck do I remember all my friends’ birthdays? I decided the problem was not worth solving; Mark Zuckerberg of course built Facebook.
This is all on my mind because yesterday was my birthday. I am now the ripe old age of 34. The title of this post was inspired by the subject of an email that a cousin of mine sends out wishing her friends and family a happy new year. It succinctly conveys the fact that we’re all captive on Spaceship Earth, relentlessly orbiting the Sun. But I think it makes a little more sense applied to birthdays. So congratulate me on another successful circuit around the Sun.