Painting by Varsha Kharatamal
Birthday is considered to be one of the most special days in everyone's life. A day accompanied by intense feelings that nourish and uplift the spirit. A day when the shadows that spread throughout the year are dispersed, while the feelings of connectedness and completeness grow. For a moment, life is felt to the fullest, but when that moment passes, people embark on an eternal search to find that feeling again. And, from the first breath that newborn inhales to the last breath that the dying person exhales, human life is guided by the desire to attain that feeling of wholeness.
With birthday celebrations, which are nurtured from year to year, this quest becomes a synonym for life. However, as birthdays are increasingly associated with gifts, a royal table, and people celebrating the celebrant, life becomes a synonym for excitement and enjoyment. This conditioning determines the human perception of why birthdays are mostly celebrated for the wrong reasons - to gain temporary joy and a sense of importance. This also creates expectations, the achievement of which is a measure of a one's personal success.
But, birthday euphoria is always short-lived and disappears as soon as the party is over or if expectations remain unfulfilled. It is enough that birthday cards are not received from people who were considered important, that the cake is too small or that the host's work is not praised, that a celebrant falls into the abyss of depression and despair. This is most often manifested through feelings of loneliness, being rejected or not loved, against which the conditioned mind finghts by leading people to chase after anything that could break such feelings, at least for a moment. However, such discomfort and suffering are assumed to be consequence of separation from other people, and not as consequence of separation from one's own original nature, why a solution is sought in the wrong places.
This way, the reasons for short-lived completeness and satisfaction (that is reality even for the biggest and nicest birthday celebrations), may be miss-understood. In fact, the problem is never the celebration itself, but the lack of its deeper meaning.
Namely, every birthday should be a reminder of the magic of life. A reminder of our original nature, of what we were before we separated from our mother and from the source of existence. The birthday should be a ritual that reconnects us with our core and unites us with everything. A ritual that opens our hearts to love and compassion. The birthday should fill us with gratitude that we were born as human beings having therefore the opportunity to attain enlightenment and transcend the world. It must remind us that every life, born in this world, and regardless of its ephemerality, is valuable and important because it appears in this realm for a reason and with a purpose. Even more it should remind us that our birth is also the birth of everything else.
If we do not look at the birthday from this perspective, we become like a senile person who constantly returns to the same supermarket where he walks confusedly between the shelves, not knowing why he is there or what he is looking for. That is why our birthday must serve as a reminder of the life task with which we entered the life stage, and which can only be solved if we do not allow the colorful shelves in the life's supermarket to constantly distract us.