Another year has whizzed past me; I turned 65 years old about 3 weeks ago.
While getting older every year is mandatory and a known fact of life, every one of these birthday anniversaries of mine carry its own uniqueness, even significance and a learning lesson as well.
When I was young, my birthday was a non-event as my parents were too poor to celebrate for me and all the other 6 children. I used to feel somewhat sad but not deprived (when I compared my birthday event with my classmates and friends) as there was this inner voice that told me ‘to be patient and strong’ because some day I would get all the celebrations I want. This is true for now I could have whatever kind of birthday celebrations I want, and for my loved ones as well. I learned one great lesson in life – be patient.
Celebrating birthdays came about only when I was in UK in the 70s when my foster mum and ex-boss, the late Sister Thomas Chan would personally cooked for me a few dishes on all my 3 birthdays in a row when I was working under her. Here I learned the lessons of kindness, gratitude and love from someone who didn’t have to but wanted to.
Since then my birthdays were always celebrated in different context and measures as well; some were big affairs, and some were small ones. They carried different meanings, leaving behind sweet memories and different lessons as well.
I remember there was one time when I woke up in Melbourne on my birthday and had the whole bunch of ex-employees in KL singing the birthday song for me in Facebook. This not only touched me but I learned the lesson that we should always try to do good things to earn trust and respect from people.
My recent 65th birthday also unfolded a new lesson of life for me. In a way I was glad that this one was totally celebrated with some special like-minded old friends of mine, and the family was not in this equation at all!
It was an event out of default rather than planned for. My whole family was in Melbourne at that time to support my younger son, Jeremy, who has made a very big stride in his life for getting enrolled in college there! We are so glad for him. A big birthday present for me in many ways!
So, on the other side of the planet, I became a ‘temporary bachelor’ during this stretch of time that included my birthday. I had a choice: to celebrate it all alone because no one was around, or I could reverse the circumstances by having a party with some close social friends. Which I did. It became very meaningful and eventful as well.
The first part of this special day was celebrated with some very nice ex-working colleagues in a traditional birthday lunch in a very fine Thai restaurant. It was one of the best Thai lunch I ever had. I felt so touched again to have this lunch with them for so many years without fail, as a boss and also now not as a boss. I learned this lesson that one should keep and treasure good friendship with special friends.
The second part was a ‘wild bachelor party’ with some special like-minded temporary bachelors who were without their spouses. It was a convergence of some good and different friends coming together whom I knew and became close at different phases of my life. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in our natural ways without any pretense. This one taught me the lesson that I need to invest in getting closer in friendship and relationship with good friends to spice up our aging life (or else suffer in loneliness); more so when I am getting older!
We all have our learning moments as we pass through the different stages of our lives. We may grow older, but never to lose out in enjoying and learning from life especially in very special moments.
In my case, my birthdays are also my ‘classroom’ for learning about myself, my life and the special people who celebrates it with me!