Birthdays and Death

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I don’t know when I stopped being able to keep track (probably too soon in my life some would say), but the kids I nanny know better how old I am than me. It always takes me a minute or two to figure it out, counting from the year I was born.

At the same time when I can’t remember how old I am according to the number of times I’ve gone around the sun, I’ve become more and more aware of the flow of time, and birthdays have become something… a little scary.

Ever since I was little, ever since I can remember, I’ve been terrified of one thing; that I’ll die before learning everything. It’s not death itself that scares me; it’s the fact that I won’t have enough time to see, experience, feel, hear, witness and remember all there is.

Nowadays I know that that’s exactly what is going to happen; there’s knowledge beyond books, things humanity haven’t discovered yet, things it did discover but doesn’t believe,… There’s much more of that we don’t know than that we do know. Knowledge is limited. Knowledge of that we don’t know isn’t.

Every year, every birthday, marks another step in my journey towards Death. Death after which I won’t be able to see the smile of a kind stranger, feel the wind caressing my skin, or hear the stars sing through a clear cold night. Death after which I won’t be able to feel the pain of a heartbreak, taste the tears of defeat, and learn to come out on the other side with scars but stronger and wiser than before.

But at the same time, every year, every birthday, marks another step during which I’ve experienced all those things. And learned. And explored. And was so beautifully, painfully, alive.

When we’re younger, birthday is all about that another year we’ve lived and learned. It’s a celebration of life and learning and growing into adulthood, whatever that is.

When we get older, birthday might still be all this, but it also becomes a reminder that our days on this beautiful planet, under this beautiful sun, in the light of all the beautiful stars, are numbered. That one day, we will go to sleep, never to wake up surrounded by all this beauty again.

Birthdays are bittersweet for me. But they’re the most perfect reminder that one day, I won’t be anymore, as well as nothing of this will be anymore. That one day, long into the future, even this beautiful world will die, swallowed by the dying sun, and, eventually turned into nothing in the dying universe. One day, everything, including time, will cease to exist.

And so, maybe, I should make the most of it while time still is, while I still am.

So here’s to another year of learning and accepting all the knowledge the Universe will throw at me, even if they are things many of us would rather not learn at all. And to hoping that one day, I will die an old crone, having understood at least the smallest things in the Universe, and taught even just a single soul something that they’ll treasure until the time comes for them, too.

Cheers and love,
P.

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