Next week I’ll be turning 27.
A few interesting things about the number 27:
27 is a perfect cube number. 3 x 3 x 3 = 27.
There are 27 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
Uranus has 27 moons.
A regulation length MLB game has 27 outs.
There are 27 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
There are 27 bones in the human hand.
And, as recently repopularized by the passing of Amy Winehouse, an improbable number of musicians have died at the age of 27. A number of books and a fantastic graphic novel have been written on the subject (the first trade of Soule‘s ’27’ has just published and issues of the 2nd volume distribute in a few months. Highly recommended for both the magnificent art and compelling story). So maybe I should be thankful for not having a musically talented bone in my body.
In truth, I’ve never really put much stock in birthdays. I buy a cake sometime that week for my roommates and friends to partake in and that’s it. Usually people don’t realize it’s taken place unless a friend, through some dark and mysterious art, divined the correct date and mentions it (damn you facebook!). And being Jewish, I actually have 2 of them. Oy vey.
There’s nothing particularly exciting about turning 27. It’s essentially the half way point between 25 and 30. I’m older. I’m balder. I can’t take a hangover as well as I used to. I can’t pull more than 2 24-hr days a week anymore. I have people and things I’m thankful for. I have responsibilities. Celebrating myself for one day won’t change any of that. It’s an arbitrary milestone at best.
So then why am I even bothering to write a blog post about it? You could just as easily read Tom‘s, and probably come away a lot better off.
Well, to be frank with myself about it, it isn’t about reflecting on the last 26 years. It should be about what’s coming. Moving to a new apartment for the first time since before I graduated. Starting grad school. Living healthier in my day-to-day life. Having actual vacation time (I haven’t taken more than 4 consecutive days off in over 6 years) and possibly taking it overseas. Dear friends returning to Boston.
And that’s just the stuff I know is coming. The unknown is so much more vast. And so much more frightening! The potential for growth in my life, both personally and professionally, is higher than ever before. And I’m excited. Which is a hard thing for a realist. But the one thing that makes me a realist, even though most people believe I’m a skeptic? I have hope. Maybe that just makes me delusional. But at the heart of it, one thing remains true: whether for good or bad, every year brings change. It’s how you internalize those changes that matters.
And that’s what your birthday is. It’s not to dwell on the past or lose your head in the future. It’s a rare opportunity to touch base with who you are in the here-and-now. To ground yourself in the Now and take one long unblinking look at the state of your Being.
For some it’s a reaffirmation. For others, a wake up call. Either way, it’s a day of Judgement. Ignore it at your peril.