Or it doesn't.
I'm not sure.
I didn't make much of my actual birthday on Friday. I don't really believe in the whole concept. Don't get me wrong. I love to celebrate with my friends and family... pretty much any occasion. Like "Tuesdays." Those are great occasions... as are the other six days of the week. I guess what I'm saying is that I get to celebrate enough things that aren't really things (or actually are) that I don't care what I do on the one day that happens to be 365 days X n (n being number of years since I left the comforts of a womb and started having to deal with things like crawling, acne and 401k contributions). As long as I'm not having ear surgery or breaking down in my brown Ford Tempo on a highway with a broken collarbone (ghosts of birthdays past), I'm good.
At my age, it's not too difficult to get wrapped up in one's mortality. 47 years of things. Good memories, never-healing scars, glory days, lingering regrets, accomplishments, bad decisions... trying to recall the positives and get over the shitty parts. Telling yourself to live for the moment while also acknowledging that there are probably fewer of them in front of you than there are behind.
Not wanting to waste a single minute but not sure what to do with all of them.
My dad passed away at 61. I hate saying "passed away," because he actually died. "Passed away" just sounds more pleasant. I got to see most of it happen. If he coulda had one more day on this side of things, I think he'd want to negotiate first. Go back to a time long ago and decide to not start smoking cigarettes as a teenager? Then maybe, just maybe, tacking on an extra day wouldn't sound so bad. Otherwise? Dunno. His last few days (months... years...?) didn't seem ideal or tranquil.
I'm happy to be alive. Delighted to ride my bike with my little friends.
photo cred: KürdtSaturday. There was some reference to this being my "birthday" ride, but in my mind it was a "the weather is perfect, I'm taking my daughter to two-week summer camp on Sunday, I'll be in Charleston, WV next weekend, and then off to the Tour de Burg, so this should happen now" ride. I knew where I needed to be, and that's where I went.
All in all, a perfect ride. The weather, the trail conditions, the company, the route... utopian. Coming down Black Mountain trying to hold Kürdt's and Colin's respective back wheels, I was once again reminded that as long as I can do this... I wanna keep doing exactly this. I'll have to keep my temple (a loose reference to my moderately flabby, ambulating physical form) in decent enough condition to keep doing so if that's the long term goal. Stretching, exercise, supplements, proper sleep, occasionally showing emotions other than "happy" or "meh"... flossing five times a week (I'm not letting the dentist tell me what to do with my weekend).
Maintenance. Almost always tops on my list of things I don't want to do. I ride single speed mountain bikes on the trail and a fixed gear at work for a many reasons. Avoiding upkeep is high on that list. It's the biggest waste of time with (sadly) the absolute highest reward. The fewer things you have to maintain, the better... if you want to have shit that keeps working that is.
Getting back to life and not things such as bottom bracket greasing...
A shared friend (and someone who's company I greatly enjoyed when I was in his presence) took his own life awhile back. It's been hard to absorb. It's so far beyond my personal comprehension. I've been a dopey person at times, not really sure about what I'm doing and why. Fatalism. Not always terribly interested in living, but honestly... you have to look forward to what might happen next. There's always going to be another ride down Black Mountain, a hug from a family member (or an uncomfortable hug from a friend), another interaction that restores your faith in mankind... seriously, the positive things that are coming your way have to be something to stick around for. And they are always coming. Maybe not as fast as you want or right when you need them, but they're right over that pessimistically gloomy horizon.
On one of my dad's last days, he "woke up" and looked around his room at the VA hospital.
"Oh... I'm still here," he said with a certain amount of disappointment.
I hope to wake up every day saying the same thing to myself, hopefully with a 100% different attitude towards my current state of affairs.
Oh yeah, happy Monday and Fathers Day everybody!