As Facebook has reminded you, today is my 36th birthday. It was this day in 1981 that my parents had to change the name they had planned on giving me, Mario, because when I was born, I didn’t look Italian and Mexican enough (on my mom’s side) to live up to what that name should look like. I was born with much fairer skin and lighter hair than I have now…
So instead, they gave me a Greek name, Nicholas, which means “victorious.” In hindsight, that name has become a tribute to my Italian grandfather, Alberto Victorio Metallo. Fate would have it that despite not looking ethnic enough for the name Mario on the day I was born, members of my family unanimously agree that as a grown man, I definitely have an undeniable resemblance to my grandfather; whose own father emigrated here from southern Italy about 100 years ago.
When it comes to my age, I will never be the kind of person who is ashamed or embarrassed by that ultimately arbitrary number, no matter how high it gets. Because the whole point of a birthday is to celebrate your life with the people who care about you.
It’s that one day of the year where you don’t have to do anything but be alive, and accordingly, people make a big deal about you still existing in the universe.
On the day you are born, you are not psychologically developed enough to appreciate the world celebrating your arrival into the world. And when you die, at your funeral, you are not able to physically respond to everyone mourning your passing, as well as celebrating your life that has now come to an end.
But for the birthdays in between those bookmarks, we can all celebrate together, in these living years.
In real time, we can consciously appreciate the precious and mysterious gift of life. We can celebrate our shared memories, that in theory, only continue to exist because we still remember them.
I think birthdays are great.
So here’s to being closer to 40 than 30.
Here’s to being grateful for all I have, including people who celebrate the fact that I still exist in the universe.
Here’s to being reminded everyday, not just my birthday, how much I matter in this world; especially to a beautiful girl from California, and our wondrous blue-eyed children.