Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So, they say it's my birthday...

PHOTO: Me, 26 years ago today, on my 13th birthday...

As an adult, I've never really been one to celebrate my birthday. Not because of all the typical 'another year older' cliches, but because, well, just because...

Because, I think, the older you get, the less an actual birthday really starts to mean. Don't get me wrong - I'm not old. Physically, I'm in better shape than I was a decade ago and, from what I can see, I'm in better shape than at least half the guys I've got a decade-plus on.

Mentally, I know more now than I've ever known before, and I learn more every day. And, I'm sharper now than I've ever been before. Isn't that the point?

I look at life differently now than I did a decade or two ago, and that's a good thing.

When I moved to Los Angeles nine years ago, as corny as it sounds, I was living the dream, the editor of a big music magazine with an expense account that never ended. Today, I'd rather drive home sober and live to enjoy my friends another day.

Our dreams are different as we grow older.

When I moved to Los Angeles nine years ago, I was living in the present, still in my twenties, my future ahead of me. Today, I dream of having a son or daughter to add to a family that, right now, is my wife and I in a house that is too big for just the two of us.

Today the future is no longer ahead of me, it's something that I am in the midst of creating.

We lost our dog to a devastating spine disease less than a week ago. Two years ago, I awoke on my birthday to the tragic news that dear friends of ours had lost their father and husband to a heart attack.

Birthdays are a time to celebrate life, but that gets harder when they are surrounded by death.

Meanwhile, like many of my friends, I'm looking for full-time work - and it is disheartening, to say the least. Disheartening because, in an oppressive job market, most resumes we submit don't even get a response, no matter how long we spend on a cover letter.

Most of the people I do hear back from tell me that I'm overqualified for the jobs I'm applying for, but if former VPs ten years my senior are willing to take 50-percent pay cuts to take a job that I should be considered for, how am I wrong to apply for jobs that might be considered below my pay scale and qualifications?

When your focus is on planning a family and providing stability for your wife, is it wrong to consider job security and benefits ahead of the perpetual headaches of trying to establish your own company? The dream changes as we get older - that doesn't mean we have to forget it, but it does mean that we have to be mature enough to adapt.

Yes, today is my birthday, but it's not my birthday that I am celebrating. Today I am celebrating life, my birthday is just the excuse.

Today I am celebrating my family. Today I am celebrating my friends. Today I am not mourning the death of Dave Lander and the passing of my beloved Mini, I am celebrating the fact that I have been blessed to have them both in my life.

I met Morgan and Mercedes Lander 15 years ago, when they were bright-eyed teenagers on the cusp of releasing their first album with their band Kittie. I had more in common with their parents, than I had in common with them.

Today, Morgan and Mercedes inspire me.

Less than a month after the death of their father, they were at our wedding, sitting with their mother and celebrating life. And whenever we see them, they talk about their dad with smiles on their face, surging forward and pressing on, because they know that's what he would want.

And if they can, so can I.

There is a hidden joy in suffering the pain of loss that is all too easy to forget - yes, we ache, but we never lose the memories we cherish. If we never feel the hurt, it means we never felt the joy.

Is it easy? No, but that's life. And what is a life without joy?

So today, I am not celebrating my birthday, I am celebrating the fact that our birthday commemorates the day we were born, and there is no bigger celebration of life, than the joy of birth.

I said the same thing a year ago on this day, but today I really believe it - this year will be better than last year.

Celebrate life, it's the only one we get!



Anonymous said...

happy birthday :) and take care!

Andrea Metz said...

It will be a better year. I can't wait to see what this year has to offer you.

Michael said...

Wise words, Paul. We can only live as best as we can, after all the hits we take.