Another birthday suffered
As Mark Twain said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.”
That was part of my week last week. Another birthday suffered.
I use the word “suffer” advisedly. Not because it was painful, but it was simply cringeworthy (as it always has been). I have always believed that the “Hi, it's my birthday” as being a cry for attention. “Like me, like me.” Many people like that of course, and good for them, but not my thing.
I've always taken the attitude that if you like me then fine and good — but if you don't like me that's perfectly fine too. Just don't linger around too long to keep telling me that. Move on.
The societal fact that I'm a year older is meaningless. Today I'll be a day older. So what? This obsession with age troubles me. Would I like to be 34 again? Sure, why not? (I've no idea why I chose that number. It sounds good I guess).
I'd cherish being much younger if I could have the knowledge, experience, and wisdom I think I have now. I'll take that please. I'd have a much better idea of what I would do in my future at 34 than I actually had when I was 34. Work that out.
I've just started reading a book given to me by a close friend who is slightly younger than me (not much). It is a classic called From a College Window written in 1906 by Arthur C Benson.
One early line in the book caught my eye and my imagination: “What a waste of mental energy it is to be troubled about one's path in life.” Brilliant.
A while back, actually, a decade or three ago, I was a moderate smoker and drinker. In those days I would get birthday cards from Johnnie Walker (Black)! But I digress.
I wasn't a regular drinker or a habitual drinker, but I did enjoy a libation or five on occasion. But after some time, I could see that it was beginning to control me, so I stopped “cold turkey”. I simply didn't want the rest of my life to be controlled by some external force. I needed to be the centre of my life.
I needed to not just be me, but I needed to know me. In other words, as per the above quote, I was troubled by my own path. There had to be something better. I had to take charge of my own life.
That's where the next problem arose.
Many people see such a self-focused or self-centred lifestyle as being “narcissistic”. That's not a word I would use, for three reasons: (a) I don't know what it means; (b) I can't spell it; and (c) I can't even pronounce it.
Taking charge of your own life should be Priority #1. I saw a video interview of Andrea Bocelli in his home in Italy. He said: “Every day is a gift from God. You have to use it and enjoy it fully.” I believe that.
But back to the birthday boy and his inner conflict.
As much as the attention makes me slightly uncomfortable, I also appreciated the many people who, in person and especially online from around the world (thank you Olderhood Facebook) sent me best wishes: including my football team in Scotland, my bank, Facebook itself, folks on LinkedIn, family in Scotland and many more — and some dude asking for money!
I do not treat these wellwishers flippantly, not at all. If people made the effort to send messages, then obviously I made the effort to respond. Thank you.
So, there you go. Another year older, another birthday survived … and ironically, I look forward to suffering many more.
• Bill Storie is chief executive of The Olderhood Group Ltd, Bermuda and is a CA (Scotland). He is also producer and host of the Olderhood Radio podcasts, which can be found on The Royal Gazette website. For more information, visit www.olderhoodgroup.com