Happy Birthday to me

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By JE Bolton

Today is September 19th: The sun rises over the East Tennessee mountains as the early morning chill causes my covers to seem more enticing and beckoning than usual. However, the timed percolation device on my electric tea pot has other plans.

It’s time to start my day. I stretch, let out a huge yawn, and a herd of puppy kisses force me to rise from my paralyzing slumber. I check my emails and cell phone. How nice! An array of family and close friends wish me “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Happy Birthday? Eek! Is that today…and already? Didn’t I just have a birthday a week ago? I try to deny it, but the calendar hanging next to my desk proves me wrong. Needless to say, I accept my fate in aging and start my birthday rituals. When you’re over thirty, it’s no longer a birthday plan--it’s a birthday ritual.

I get dressed and stop by the local park to run the circled walking area. I do this to give myself a sense of accomplishment. Then, the unthinkable happens. Two young men, both twenty, run two laps to my one and don‘t break a sweat. Needless to say, I hung my head in defeat and went home. My vain expectations were what they were…in vain.

I sit down in my easy chair, cut myself a slice of birthday cake and rent one of my favorite movies: “The Jerk” starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. What’s sad is that when I told the girl at the video store what I wanted to rent, she advised me that the movie might be in the “oldies” section.

 This was supposed to be the happiest day of the year for me. Instead, all this day did was remind me that I’m not twenty anymore and that movies I grew up with are considered “oldies.” Is there any hope for my personal despair? God knows I’m not in my twenties anymore, but I’m also not as old as young “teeny-boppers” may think. Maybe I should’ve just stayed in bed.

Suddenly, I turned on the news and saw the tragedies taking place all over the world: sickness, poverty, and all the other misfortunes this world can churn out. Then, it dawned on me. I’m pretty lucky. I have my health, people in my life who love me, a few dollars in the bank, and clear direction with my life.

All in all, the best gift I got this birthday was the wonderful assurance that I‘m one the most blessed birthday boys around. Hmm…I guess it’s true what they say: sometimes, we don’t realize what we truly have.

Happy birthday to me, and to all a good life.