Friday, May 29, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (29, that is)

I hate my birthday.

Now, when I say I "hate" it, I do not speak in the simple chronological sense, and the increasing nearness of inevitable mortality. Nor do I express insincere protestations in the hopes of garnering attention, gifts, or social events of dubious value (such as "surprise" parties). Rather, I hate my birthday because it is the one day when my insecurities and inadequacies grow beyond the respectful bounds of colorful idiosyncracies, instead assuming a troubling primacy over my psyche.

For the other 364 days the disparate slivers that forms what passes for my personality maintain, more or less, a kind of workable cohesion. Even when I am unhappy or distressed, these things are in me in the adjectival sense, as in I feel unhappy. But today these terms take on the trappings of nouns, and as a consequence I am unhappy.

The reality is that my miseries, to the extent that they even warrant such a term, are no greater on the 29th of May than they were on the 28th. It is my inability to properly internalize them that makes the day so difficult, and hence why I view it with something akin to dread.

But though my problems are no larger today than any other day, they do loom more prominently in the mind. I am plagued by unfulfilled ambitions and affections, which trouble me as incomplete, or unbecoming, or even in some instances both, or neither, or more.

Some of them seem no further than my fingertips; others may as well be on the moon. But either way I lack the capacity to consumate them, and the good sense to divorce them. Strangely, it may seem that those within my grasp would frustrate me more, as there I am my own obstacle, but in an ironic turn I find I press and strain against the impossible, until the effort replaces enthusiasm with exhaustion.

David Hume once wrote that reason could aspire to no other office than to serve passion. In my everyday life I acclaim reason and disdain passion, regarding even its pleasures as deleterious. It may then be fitting that on the 29th of each year I am forced to pay the compounded interest of sentiments deferred the rest of the year.

But even so, I hate my birthday.

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