Another trip around the Sun

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.


Robert Schanafelt

Hey! Happy Birthday Justin!


Well I would have posted a Happy Birthday comment on your blog, but just posting a comment like that on some miscellaneous unrelated entry just doesn’t seem right – a disjunction of stimulus and response. Whereas on Facebook I have the ability to initiate “Write Post” directed at you to wish you a wonderful stupendous Happy Birthday. So in lieu of you not having a Facebook account, I sent you a card by snail mail, an email, and now that you indeed have a posting on your blog I’ll use that to wish you a great extraordinary Happy Birthday.


Ha. This post is so Justin-y.

I think celebrating life by recognizing that I have lived another year is a good, joyful thing to do, but I get that it’s not something everyone cares about. I also think that it’s these little celebrations, taken over a period of time, that ties people together and makes relationships gain depth. Recognizing someone’s birthday is recognizing their life within the context of time, which is important because, of course, life ends.

Happy birthday.


Super Justin-y. I almost sent you a happy birthday email on what I knew was your birthday, but then I thought, “Justin doesn’t care about his own birthday, so why am I doing this?” But the longer I live, the more I feel like taking advantage of these “excuses” for contact with friends is just that–a reason to get in touch that makes one think about that person. Not such a bad thing.

Belated happy birthday!! Somehow missed this in the transition between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi… :)

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