Birthdays, Graduation, and Celebrations

by talkbackty on Jul 24, 2011

I apologize for not writing in awhile. As I explained in my short post earlier this week; it was my birthday on Tuesday, my graduation on Friday, it was finals week and I had to pack all my things to move. None of which I'm particularly fond of.

I understand finals are part of the system of college. I realize I own too many things as I tried to pack up. But I will never understand the emphasis, the exuberance, or the importance people put on "celebratory" occasions. I don't like my birthday, I participated in graduation because my parents asked me too, and since they are important, I obliged them.

The entire celebration process, for any occasion but let's go with birthdays, is confusing to me. What are we celebrating? My parents having sex? Survival from the challenges of living in an air conditioned home with a Wal-Mart down the street? Or is it just a celebration of mediocrity?

There's a quote from Leo McGarry of The West Wing that I am going to paraphrase: "I'm an alcoholic, I don't need a reason to drink."

Why I do I say that? Because do we really need a reason to celebrate life? Is it something we should reserve for one day of the year? I don't place any importance on my birthday because it is as arbitrary a date as any other. Celebrate how awesome I am on November 29th instead. Or January 2nd. Or never. There's no difference to me.

I think there is no difference because I'm comfortable with myself. I don't need to be slapped on the back and told it's my birthday. I'm perfectly content without any recognition of an event I didn't have a choice in.

Here's what's nice. Here's what makes my day. Here's something I wish people did all the time. Celebrate people's real accomplishments. I, with help from numerous sources, have put up a podcast every week for thirty weeks in a row. I write a blog weekly. I take pictures quite often. I put a lot of work into producing quite a bit of content. I do this every week. But I guarantee most of the people who wished me Happy Birthday have never downloaded an episode of TalkBack, have never read this blog, and never commented on my photographs.

Why would people celebrate an event that I had literally no choice about and not the successes (at least what I consider successes) every week? The only answer I have come up with over the years is that those people don't actually give a shit. If you really were concerned or interested about what my life is like, I'm not exactly hard to find.

That's not to say everyone who ever wishes me happy birthday is a hypocrite. There are plenty of people who are my friends and I feel thankful to have them as part of my life. I try to show my gratitude to those specific people as best as I can.

On graduation

All of that leads to this...  I graduated college. Whoopdeedo. Again, I don't see the reason to celebrate this event specifically over the numerous things anyone accomplishes throughout their life. There were some mornings when I honestly thought it would better to die than get out of bed to go to school. I got out of bed. No one congratulated me on that day. Why would they? 

 Should they? No, probably not; but it would have been a lot better to congratulate me on that day than on one where my time going to school happened to run out.

So is celebration for graduating just a lumped together, "Nice work not dying, not failing, not punching that guy in the face, not getting a girl pregnant." Just a big well done? I don't know, but if it is then that's kind of a cop out. Sort of like saying, "I wasn't around when any of those difficult events were going on, but nice work anyways." And I'm not interested in that kind of celebration.

If you were there during the hard times then you never need to congratulate me on anything, in fact, I should be thanking you.  

In closing

There are plenty of things to celebrate in this life. A birthday is not one of them. Giving birth, absolutely. Graduating from college is not something you can give an all-encompassing, "good job" too and expect it to mean anything.

The fact is: Life is complex. To celebrate things so vaguely and arbitrarily diminishes the actual difficulties you overcame, and the actual things you accomplished.

If you ever want to celebrate something I do, be specific. Comment on this blog; say, "Tyler I really got a lot out of your blog. It made me think about life and how I'm living and what path I'm taking." That's specific. I can talk to you about that. Download the podcast; say, "Tyler, you and Rolando really made me laugh this week. Thank you for brightening my mood." I'm all over Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. I'm not difficult to get in contact with.

The difference between these two ways of celebrating (the vague and arbitrary vs. the specific and meaningful) make them almost incomparable. I respect one and not the other to start. More importantly, one actually makes me feel grateful, makes me feel happy, makes me want to get closer to you and understand more about you.  

It is that understanding, or that desire to understand, that is actually important in this life.  

Thanks for reading. It is appreciated.