I have a little policy. I don’t work on my birthday. I’ve had this deeply personal policy since I was about 14 – much to my Mother’s chagrin, because it meant that I skipped school that day. Just didn’t go. I did whatever I wanted to instead of science or history. I’ve explained this at job interviews, I’ve blown off tests – I don’t work on my birthday, and I felt strongly enough that I’ve prearranged that, and I haven’t. If it was optional on my birthday, I haven’t done it unless I wanted to.
This policy has brought me a lot of happiness. It’s not that I think that birthdays are all that, and I’ve never particularly wanted a screamingly huge party, or a thousand presents, or anything like that – but I do like the idea of a day where everyone (including you) are just happy you’re here, and everything goes your way, if it can. Your favourite breakfast, your favourite things to do, your favourite people around you. It’s my idea of lovely, and I’ve always arranged to have just that on my own Birthday – until today.
This year is the first time in all my 47 birthdays, that I am working on this day. I admit to trying to have a bit of a pout about it when it was first arranged, but it was me arranging it, so I couldn’t really get too bent. There was no other weekend that it was possible to have this retreat, and so I put on my grown-up pants (what the hell, I’m turning 47) and I did it. It’s just one day, I said. It doesn’t matter. (I was lying a little bit.)
Last night though, I was sitting with Judith and Debbi, and we were having a glass of wine after a beautiful day – I mean, a really beautiful day. I don’t know what’s going on with the retreat this time, but everyone here is so lovely, and the weather is perfect, and the vibe is fantastic, and I realized that if I thought about it right, this is almost exactly where I want to be.
Sure – would I rather be with my family, yes. I love them, and let me tell you, I’ve been waiting months to hear Luis sing me “Feliz Compleanos.” Joe would make (or arrange, to be more realistic) my favourite foods, I’d sit in the garden and knit – it would be a pretty spectacular day. This though – being here, and doing this work instead? It’s suddenly filled me with a pretty overwhelming and slightly mushy sense of gratitude.
Yeah, I’m going to work a 12 hour day on my birthday – but oh man. I’m so lucky that this is my work. I’ll be surrounded by people who have set aside a whole weekend to learn to make things, and celebrate being someone who makes things, and the whole day we’ll talk about knitting, and how it works and every person here, every one of them, thinks that’s not stupid. They’ll spin and weave and paint and stitch and knit and ….
It’s not what I would have chosen, and last night, I realized that was too bad. I’m glad I didn’t get to pick, because this IS a day I’ll spend doing so many of my favourite things after all, and I think it’s going to be an awesome day.
Make way for the makers, and Happy Birthday to me.
(PS. Thank you all for the good wishes. All I really want for my birthday is to spread the love around. If you’re so compelled, I’d love to make my goal for the bike rally. A donation would be a great gift. )