August is a month of birthdays in my family including my own. My oldest grandson’s birthday was on the 19th, my sister-in-laws on the 20th, mine on the 21st, my oldest brother’s on the 25th. For me, however, this birthday required a trip to the DMV to renew my driver’s license because apparently, in California, one has to make an appearance at least once every ten years. This trip to the DMV was to result in a couple of traumatic events on that always-growing older spiral. The first of which is that I failed the eye test and am now required to wear corrective lenses while driving. That’s no too bad because I have been having some difficulty reading those little street name signs but what really hit me hard arrived in the mail – my new driver’s license.
I swear that the photograph on the license is not of my face. For certain it is definitely not the visage I look at every morning in the mirror while shaving. Instead, it is the photograph of some random old man I have never seen before. Yes, he bares a slight resemblance in the way he combs his hair and wears his mustache but that is really all we have in common.
Life is a river that never stops flowing it seems and since this traumatic slap in the you are growing old face I have been worried about it and yet the river flows endlessly. Even now, as I write this, my oldest daughter is in labor with her third child, another boy, who will come into this world as my seventh grandchild – yet another ripple in the currents of what we call life.
Birthdays come and go, some scattered, some clumped, and are celebrated by some as the survival of yet another year and by others as the promise of one more year ahead. A birthday is indeed a milestone marker for many people but one I failed to give any real significance to for most of my life for, if you think about it, isn’t just another day in a year?
I have a friend on the east coast who called me on his 80th birthday in 2012 to catch up and while we talked he let me know that he had just begun thinking about that inevitable end-of-life. I was amazed that only at 80 did he begin to consider his own mortality. I have pondered it much of my life – even before I was told by that Gypsy Fortune Teller back in 1972, when I was still seventeen, that I would die before my 21st birthday.
Our birthday’s mean that we are another year older, sometimes another year wiser, often that we are further behind than at the same time last year, and always that we are another year closer to the inevitable. However, none of this should be dwelled on too seriously when we adopt that one-day-at-a-time power-of-now mentality. For myself I still have far too much to accomplish to worry about it but I am keeping my driver’s license turned over in my wallet so I don’t have to look at that old man’s face.