On birthdays and celebrating life

So it happened again, this year, same date. Yes my birthday. For the past few years, I didn't really enjoy celebrating the fact that was "getting old". And one day, as I talked to a friend about it, she said something that was so simple that it actually blew my mind... She said : "why are you not celebrating your birthday?" To which I replied with that blank statement of : "why would I celebrate the fact that I'm getting old ?" That's when she dropped this truth bomb : "Honey, it's not about celebrating you getting old, it's about celebrating the day you were born, which is a life miracle and the fact that you are still alive which is a blessing."... BOOM. So simple yet so true. Do you know the probability of your being born ? It's something like 1 in 400 trillion (all the details in this article)  - ermmm yes, FOUR HUNDRED TRILLION...Do you even know what a trillion is... well, it's big enough to make you realize that the event of you being born as you is an unlikely event; almost impossible - which by definition is what we call a miracle. So yes, I'm a miracle and so are you, and that, in itself, is enough to be celebrated at least once a year, isn't it ?

We are so brain-washed by all the media around us that promote the ever lasting youth, as if getting old was a curse, that we just end up buying it. We condition our brain thinking that getting old sucks. When in reality, life it's not even about getting old but about GROWING. And that my friend, is a huge difference. I realized that last autumn, as I watched my 3-year-old nephew playing with leaves fallen from the trees and I remember having this thought: "oh don't you ever grow old, just stay this little. Keep your pure heart, your innocence, your wonderment for every little details of life." But then I realized that that's not what life is about, is it? It's actually going through its multitude of ordeals, heart breaks, victories, success, and all these things that will challenge your pure heart, your innocence, your wonderment, BUT still finding your way back to purity, innocence and awe despite all these challenges and even have them stronger than before. That is growth, and that is beautiful.

So my wish for my nephew now, but also for myself and for you as well is : to grow old with integrity, fight for your beliefs and act with a purity of intention. To strive to keep being awed everyday: just like he looked at the leaves falling from the trees and asked why they were falling? (see video at 0:40 - and as you can see I couldn't even answer that question!). So Yes ask why,  go back to your 3-year-old self and keep on asking yourself why, why you're doing what you do, why are you waking up everyday, why is the sky blue, why are you happy, why are you sad, keep on asking everyday of your life because that is what will keep your heart alive and your soul shining; always dig deeper to answer your questions, remove your fears, your blocks, and live life fully. Don't let the world and its apparent chaos unsettle you or dime your light. Find your gift and give it away. As Pablo Picasso said: "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."


So I wish for you to keep on asking why, and be amazed by falling leaves. See that look in his eyes in the video (at 0:52), that little boy transfixed by the wonder of the leaves swirling down as the wind blew through the trees. I want us to have that. I want us to have it everyday and at every birthday.

© Hanke Arkenbout

©Hanke Arkenbout


With love and gratitude,