The fundamental things apply, as times goes by.
I turn twenty today. If I could use my Chinese age in the states, I would be twenty-one today, and be legally allowed to drink. But alas, this isn’t China – and if it is, being twenty or twenty-one would make no difference, since literally everybody who can hold a bottle in China is allowed to drink.
I still remember the day I had my first sip of alcohol. It was a bottle of my grandfather’s Chinese Baijiu, literally translated as ‘white alcohol’. I took a sip out of a cap, and the alcohol was so strong, it literally numbed my mouth for the rest of the day. Okay, I’m exaggerating there, the small sip did numb my mouth for a while, but it wasn’t that bad.
I don’t know why I always go off on a tangent when I write. But back on the topic of birthdays…
I don’t think I’m going to celebrate today. Even now, I’ve realized that birthdays after a certain point are meaningless. We grow older every day, and it’s as ridiculous to say, ‘I’m XX years old now, and WOW, I really do feel older!’ as it is to say, ‘it’s a new year, and I feel like a new person, my life is going to be so different this year!’. Birthdays after 18 (when the main legal barrier for a lot of things disappears) should all be treated as just another day in our lives.
Because face it, we don’t miraculously grow more mature or wiser when we turn 20, 21, or 30 – or even 80, for some people I know. We don’t start growing ‘men beards’ overnight – although my stubble is growing faster and faster these days. And we certainly don’t suddenly get better at what we do.
It’s one of those many ‘lateral days’ in our lives. We wake up, we go to work/school, we might go out, and then we go to sleep. But at the end of the day, nothing’s really changed.
So I’ll save my celebration for the many ‘vertical days’ in my life to come, instead. The day when I get a promotion, a new apartment. The day when I visit Iceland (or Australia, or one of the dozens of countries on my to-go list), the day I meet (or remeet) the girl of my dreams, or the day I land my dream job (Travel, photograph, live, love, be loved).
But since that day is not today, there really isn’t much to celebrate aside from, ‘I’ve lived for 20 years, hallelujah.’
But then again, I guess that’s worth at least a toast, so here’s a shot for myself (Maker’s Mark whisky with a splash of amaretto). 20, going on 21.
And finally, a Mark Twain quote that I try my best to live by. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.“