As many of you know, or may not know, this past week I was able to celebrate my birthday with friends and family. Well, as much as I could celebrate while going through eight hours worth of school and then to work until the late night. Usually, when I go throughout the week, the idea for a blog post doesn’t come to me until late Wednesday or early Thursday, but I knew I would want to talk about birthdays this week because, hey, who doesn’t like celebrating birthdays?
What I really want to focus on during this blog post, though, is both the stigma that birthdays have and what that means. Many people have either seen or know someone who hates celebrating birthdays because, in reality, a birthday celebrates one year, or day, closer to death. When I think about this, I am reminded of the classic “glass half-empty” “glass half-full” scenario. I’m assuming everyone knows this scenario, so I’ll go ahead and skip the explanation (if you don’t know it, you can Google it).
So what, then, is the proper way to think about birthdays? What is Blake’s response to Birthdays? Is it another year grown from your birth or another year closer to your death? The answer, along with the question, is complicated.
Let us look at a scenario. There are two men, lying on their deathbeds, in the same hospital room. One of them has had the “glass half-full” mentality his entire life. Saying such as “Things will get better,” “there will always be a silver lining to any dark cloud” have been in the forefront of this man’s mind throughout his life. This man has enjoyed his life and, while his impending death brings tears to his eyes, he knows that, throughout his existence, the little things in life didn’t drag him down. His family is by his side and they show their support through their love.
This other man, the proverbial “glass half-empty” man has, throughout his life, seen every struggle as an immovable object, going through the motions and not really trying to see the good in anything because, in the end, every day, to him, is one day closer to the inevitable death that he now faces. His family is there too, but there is a different atmosphere. His negativity spread, to his wife, to his children, his co-workers. Everyone knew him by his attitude of remorse and regret. Every birthday, to him, was nothing more than a check off his list until death.
Both men, living similar lives, have much different experiences. Our view of everything changes the outcome of anything. When we take situations that are negative, hurtful, painful, offensive, and twist them into something worse than they really are, we are lowering the amount of happiness that we take out of life. On the other hand, when we take things that are offensive, hurtful, make us angry, or rude, and, instead allow these moments to help us, to show us something about ourselves or someone else that maybe we wouldn’t have otherwise noticed before, perhaps he said this rude thing to me because he is upset about something else, maybe she offended me on accident, for example.
There are so many times in my own life that someone has done something hurtful to me or has offended me. One example that stands out in my head above the rest is when a group of people that I though were my friends threw a “high school guys” get together where all the guys were invited and they hung out with pizza and video games and basically bonded the whole night (I want it to be noted, I’m not ranting or complaining, there’s a point here). I found out about this party when one of my close friends accidently slipped and mentioned it in a conversation. I felt terrible. Why wouldn’t the people who I thought were my friends invite me to a party? It’s pretty obvious I’m not a big video gaming person to those who now me and their interests aren’t even the same as mine, where I like reading and scary movies, they like anime and comic books. Just the fact that they, as a group, chose to not invite me, made me furious and, thinking about it today, I still get a little hurt. Since it was a few years ago and I couldn’t just blast “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift, I was left to sit in my room and really think about what had just happened.
My “friends” threw a party without me. What could I do about it? I could go online, give the annoying “tfti” post and ignore them forever, which at times, still doesn’t sound like a bad idea, or I could think of it like this. These people most likely didn’t “forget” to invite me out of malicious intentions. They didn’t laugh and say, “Blake will be so upset and it’ll be great to see him suffer!” They weren’t some evil monsters that wanted to see me cry. They were people who, most likely, made an honest mistake.
When telling people of this story of being “left out” I hear exclamations like, “did you go over there and sarcastically say, ‘thanks for the invite?’” or “I hope you never talked to them again”. These would lead me to feel a little better, I’m not going to deny that. But what good would it do in the end? Would it change anything about that night? No, it wouldn’t.
What does any of this have to do with birthdays or a glass half-full or half-empty? Well, you see, similarly to how I chose to see being rejected as not something to get upset over, but as something to learn from, I want to think of birthdays as being something to celebrate, something that, although it may be another year closer to your death, it’s another year that we have learned, another year that we have grown. I want to see the glass as half-full, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when the water looks half-empty. Living a half-full life is not a state of being, it is not a one time decision. Living half-full is a lifestyle that means that we continually, every day look for the good in any, and perhaps every, situation.
My hope for you reading this, if you’ve stuck through this post until the end, is that you will continually look for the silver lining in the moments where the glass seems half-empty. My hope for you is that, through lives gravest struggles and saddest moments, that you will remember that life can be half-full, even if the glass is completely empty.