Most years, my birthday passes by in a haze of activity – the first week of March is high school choral festival week so there are either rehearsals or actual performances on the day. If the ninth falls on a weekend, our church bell choir often plays in church on that particular week, so I’m stuck there and can’t take the weekend off.
But this year, spurred partly by the Disney ads that offer free park admission on your birthday and partly by the overflow of points in our Disney vacation club account, we decided to take a week off, spend a few days (including my birthday) in Orlando, and then drive to Naples for the remainder of the week.
So last Monday, my actual birthday, was all about me. I’ve been teasing people in my family with that phrase, because mostly my life is all about something or someone else…my family, my dogs, my job, my high school kids, my friends…but for that one 24 hours period, the day was mine.
It was really nice.
Actually, it was glorious. The Disney people always make you feel special – after all, that’s part of the magic – but even more so on your birthday. They created a special little park ticket just for me, with “Happy Birthday, Becky” printed right on it. And a button to wear as well, so that everywhere I went in the parks people were calling out “Happy Birthday!” I passed lots of other folks of all ages wearing birthday buttons, too, and we were able smile and greet each other conspiratorially, part of the big March 9 birthday group. All the restaurants gave me free desserts (the raspberry creme chocolate bombé at The Yachtsman Steakhouse was my personal favorite), and the servers at Les Chefs de France providing a rousing rendition of Bonne Anniversaire. We went to all my favorite attractions in Epcot (The American Adventure, including listening to two sets of The Voices of Liberty, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth). We had time to return to the hotel for an afternoon nap, and then took a cab (no Disney bus on my birthday, thank you!) to the Yacht Club where we feasted on pan seared scallops on a bed of white cheddar risotto(appetizer), eight ounce filet mignon with red wine mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes (entree), and the afore mentioned chocolate/raspberry bombé. Afterward, we walked back into Epcot where we landed a prime viewing spot for the spectacular Illuminations fireworks/lights/music show which closes the park each evening.
I had so much fun being the center of attention, I cheated a little and wore my birthday button the next day too- and yes, I did get another free dessert (please don’t tell that handsome young server named Geoffrey in the Brown Derby Restaurant at Hollywood Studios).
Once I would have shied away from all that hoopla, considering it foolish or even embarrassing. But whether it’s my advancing age or simply that I was starved for attention, I lapped it all up like Molly would a dish of melted vanilla ice cream. I even asked my husband to take pictures of me – and from someone who has run from the camera her entire life, that is a remarkable request.
Having life be all about me for a change was mmm, mmm good.
So why don’t I do that more often?
The world didn’t come to an end because I did what I wanted to do for a day. I assume my family still loves me, that my job is waiting for me, and my name hasn’t been stricken from St. Peter’s list at the Pearly Gates (if it was even there in the first place.)
But the ever present voice in my head, urging me to be responsible, to think of others, to act humbly, be self-effacing, is very hard to resist. On most days fighting it is futile, so I relinquish my own best desires, and sometimes my own better judgement, in service to my conscience, my work ethic, my sense of responsibility.
Of course I don’t plan on suddenly becoming a totally henonistic being, oblivious to anyone’s need save my own. But would it hurt to occasionally -at least more often than the annual birthday celebration- have life be all about me?
I celebrate myself, I sing myself – thus begins Song of Myself, Walt Whitman’s famous poem. I loaf and invite my soul…
That’s what I did on Monday, and what better day than a birthday to celebrate oneself?
It was undoubtedly the best gift I’ve received in quite a while.
Now tell me… when was the last time you made life all about you? Isn’t it about time you did?