It’s […] acceptable to have a party on a major birthday or anniversary throughout adulthood, but for the most part, once you are beyond your mid-twenties you should avoid them.
Mark Radcliffe, Reelin’ in the Years
It’s my 39th birthday today. I am entering the 40th year of my life. In my usual way, I’ve avoided making any sort of fuss. When you’re an introvert like me, any sort of celebration feels more like a punishment to be endured, so a quiet night in with the iPad is pretty much perfect. I suppose the only difference is that I’ve decided to try to be a bit more active than passive in my end-of-day activities.
For the past few months I’ve been joking about having a midlife crisis but maybe I’m only half-joking. I think this blog post is one manifestation of my half-arsed crisis.
I have in my head the idea that I should write a blog post every day and one of the reasons for that is that I want Amélie, my daughter, to have some sort of insight into my character. I have visions of her reading through this when I’m dead and gaining some sort of comfort from the words I’m putting down now.
Recording my thoughts also plays into the idea I have that immortality is gained through remembrance. Stupidly, the best articulation of my idea came from Doctor Who, in the culmination of I forget which series, in which the Doctor is brought back to existence because he is remembered. That said, I don’t mean immortality in the sense that I will continue as a sentient being or soul but more in the sense of being remembered. As an atheist, with no belief in any sort of afterlife, this is my riposte to people who think that being an atheist means being bleak in outlook on life. Far from it – I think I can still aspire to immortality but through the deeds I do during life, things that are worthy of being remembered. (This handily allows me to say to Amélie, who, at 6 years of age, is already a firm atheist but needs some guidance on religious tolerance, that Jesus is kind of immortal in that people are still talking about him 2,000 years after his death.)
I don’t expect I’ll achieve greatness in a massive sense but I can still aspire to be seen as a great in a small way – if that isn’t too contradictory – in the impact I have on my family and friends.
So yeah, maybe I am going through some sort of crisis, or at least heavier reflection than normal, because I’m thinking about mortality, the flip side of immortality.
Apart from the lofty aims of leaving behind something more tangible than pure memories, I’m out of practice when it comes to longer form writing and I need to force myself to flex those muscles again. Twitter’s great in many ways but there’s only so much that can be said in 140 characters and it forces a certain writing style. Setting myself a target of a blog post a day means pulling myself away from the attention-sucking Facebook and Twitter and creating in a more meaningful way.
I’ve also freed myself from any notion that I should be writing for anyone other than myself which gives me licence to be as narcissistic as I want on this blog. I’ll save writing for an audience for the paying jobs.