Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m old, and only getting older as each minute passes.
Birthdays have somehow lost their luster over the years. They’ve become less of an event, more of an ordeal.
Anticipation is replaced with gentle reminders of our mortality, usually by virtue of friends making fun of our age.
Yes, I know I’m closer to 40 than 30. Thanks.
Instead of blowing out a candle for every year lived, we blow out candles in the shape of numbers, lest we risk setting off the smoke detector.
Instead of dreaming about the future, we’re taking stock of where we are and what we’ve done.
We wonder what’s left.
But it wasn’t always like this.
I can still remember my sixth birthday.
I was in first grade.
That was the year I got what has become one of my two favorite birthday presents of all time:
Hungry Hungry Hippos.
I didn’t even know it existed before I tore into a bright shiny box, wrapped with colorful paper and ribbon and found myself staring down in wonderment.
It was just a game. An inexpensive, plastic game. I didn’t even know I wanted it until it was mine.
But I loved that game more than just about any toy I’ve ever owned—more than any present I ever asked for.
These days, if you were to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, I’d say a career doing what I love. I’d say stability.
I’d rattle off a half dozen intangible things that aren’t for sale.
It’s less about what I want and more about what I need.
But perhaps all I really need is to find myself staring down in wonderment at something I never knew existed—something I didn’t know I wanted until it was mine.