Sunday, November 20, 2016

Candle Lessons: What birthdays have taught me

Your birthday sucks. Your life sucks. You suck.

I rarely post on here anymore, but I've had some thoughts on my mind for the past few weeks. Turning a year older, the Election, the final year of school, there's a lot to take in.

There’s a gradual wave of depression that we face at various stages of life, through a chemical imbalance in your brain or circumstance. Or, a combination of both.

Everyone is different. For myself, I blame some of it on DNA (apologies to anyone of relation reading this, although I’m sure you may find yourself nodding your head while reading this).

Hereditary victimization seems lazy, at least in my view. Something about the cards you’re dealt. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t factor into the general makeup of a human being. Or, however you self-identify. I won’t judge.

Apart from bloodlines, the seasons get to me. Let’s talk about the weather! The slow and arduous transition of the shorts and sundresses of summer turning to college hoodies and the same pair of jeans on a bi-weekly wash drains the optimism of warmth into the pessimistic glove and toque getup.

I always loved autumn. The leaves, the smell of wet dew in crisp fall air. It’s my favourite season. But why do the blues hit me this time of year?

It was my birthday a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how much I hate birthdays. Hate, with a capital 'H.' I hate the string of wall posts that have little to no merit, the lack of follow through to "hope everything is going well on your end!" on their end. Whatever relationship was there deteriorates into catchup with fries.

I know, I'm bad for it too. I try to send a personal message, maybe a text or a phone call. There's an extra level of personal you try to achieve. But I'm as guilty as the others when I don't respond to their response, or don't make the extra effort to find time to hang out.

The wall posts give a glimpse into those who were part of your upbringing, but are now names in a memory database. Then you think of the people who didn't write happy birthday. What happened?

You stop talking to the people who were big parts of your life, or at the very least, speak with them less. You miss their engagement, or how they broke up with that person; consecutive birthdays, or someone in their immediate family passed.

It's not that you don't want to talk to them. You had conversations lasting hours in person or over the phone. These were the ones who you relied on when life wasn't going how you planned, or when you were blindsided with something awful. You leaned on them.

Time passes. You move away for school, you become surrounded with the new people you lean on for support. New thought processes to incorporate. New lovers to make out and break up with. New routes to the Beer Store.

That's what happens. And likely, that's what happens to them, too. Tacking another digit to the age counter of life adds wisdom without anyone's help. You reflect on the year that was, those were big parts of it leading into it, and who remains in the present.

These feelings aren't unique. Every young adult must get that sense of independence taking too much of their life and the comfortable support systems we had slowly thinning out.

So we make new ones. We expand our world, find someone who knows the same Superbad reference you do, or also listens to The Hip, or can hold your hand in public and you don't mind because you want to hold theirs.

I'm starting to realize that. Birthdays were my reminder that I hadn't broken the habits I hoped to break and I hadn't accomplished the things I hoped to accomplish. They're reminders that life is delicate and precious and can be thrown into a disorganized chaos at a moment's notice.

But they can be reminders to break a rule, do something dumb, take a risk, get laid – in no particular order. They allow you to release inhibitions and celebrate living another year on this beautiful planet. Being young enables us to see the world through liberal-minded frames and the future is bright.

Or maybe that's blind optimism, and there is no catharsis, and my life is on a subtracting timeline to zero.

Man, how did he win? For God's sake... 

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