February the 16th and I [expletive-deletive]ing love celebrating my birthday.
I remember The Big Yin – Billy Connolly – once saying he has always taken his birthday off, even in the days when he was a hard-grafting welder in the Clyde shipyards – in fact all the more reason back then to fuck work off for the day and “go swimming in Lake Me” as Robbie Williams somewhat egocentrically put it.
So every year, I book the day off and go and do something/s that I love (fishing, golf, writing, boxing, playing music, etc etc) eat the food I love and spend time with the people I love. Today, it’s my birthday and I’m making sure I do something I love – writing this blog and sharing my joy with you, readers. And I can confirm I am having the most beautiful time – it started last night with a right old knees up/hooly/shin dig – take your pick – with a gig watching inveterate psychedelic, indie-rock-pop-rave-dance outfit Primal Scream. It took them a bit to get it going – but boy did they get there with an ecstatic aural climax with two of their most loved numbers from their seminal Screamadelica album Come Together, and Movin On Up leaving us all coming together as one with our hands up in the air with a big loved-up singalong like it was 1991 all over again.
I landed in bed bang on midnight with a huge grin on my face, as the missus stirred and lovingly murmured “Happy birthday, husband”. You can’t go wrong after a start to the proceedings like that! Then this morning after a rare lie-in, cards and hugs from the boys, breakfast with the missus at a beautiful café down by the ocean with blue sky and aquamarine ocean for the backdrop, a quick paddle in the cool sea, back home for a bit of writing, out for lunch with work colleagues to celebrate a couple of our number who recently took voluntary redundancy – nice to celebrate someone else as well as myself, then a quick snorkel on the way home swimming with the fishes – always tranquil and elevating – and then back home where my music’s playing and thoughts are scaping for family dinner and movie – making for a super-celebration of a day.
In fact, I’m having a bit of a month of it – the ‘Festival of February’ I’m calling it – I’ve seen ska/2tone sensations the Selecter/Beat, 90s rave/techno trailblazers Leftfield, my all-time favourite band The Stranglers – whom I got to meet backstage after they played my all time favourite track, the Raven, live as well – fulfilling two lifelong dreams, Primal Scream last night and then Northern Aireesh power-punkers Stiff Little Fingers on Monday. Meanwhile tomorrow me and the missus have a night booked at a funky hotel in town, along with dinner at a swanky Thai restaurant and tickets for an Oirish acrobat show as part of Perth’s fabulous Fringe Festival. Our cultural cup overflows….
And if this all sounds a bit indulgent, I make no apologies. We lost our dad in December – and while I want to write about him in another blog, suffice is to say it was extremely painful and challenging saying goodbye and seeing my family go through the pain of loss. But as I read not so long ago in a superb book I can heartily recommend called The Untethered Soul, death is a great teacher which can teach you to truly love life – for if you had the knowledge that you were going to die in a couple of weeks – how would you spend your days? Would you waste time fretting about all the petty shite we often spend our day to day lives turning over in our minds? Would we be arsed giving a second thinking about who said what bitchy thing to whom at work? Would we bother going to work? I wouldn’t, I’d spend every minute of every day with the people I love telling them how much I love them and doing the things I love doing while I still have the chance. And one of the great certain, uncertainties of life, is Death – we just don’t know when it’s going to tap us on the shoulder and call time – but we know it’s coming for us some day.
And unless the Buddhists are right (although I concede for all I know they may well be), we only get one crack at this – so if we’re in the privileged position that so many of us are to really seize life by the balls – then grasp those gonads, I say! Not necessarily in a sexual way – but….er alright let’s move on from that analogy. And when it comes to celebrating my birthday – I am giving permission to myself to take time and indulge myself in a way that is loving and honouring myself. I have survived another year, I have grown as a person, I have done a lot of good things which I should acknowledge – not by being proud and conceited – but just with a simple “you did good, son” to myself. And this is one day when I can do that…
This is very important for me, because it wasn’t so long ago, I wasn’t honouring myself at all and I was struggling to acknowledge to myself that I am after all a decent person deserving of my own respect and love too. Because I didn’t feel like a good person at all. Yet, I did all too easily indulge myself – but selfishly with shit that wasn’t good for me, that ultimately was adding to my feeling of dis-ease and not really liking myself.
This is another reason for me to celebrate, because this time four years ago, I was on my last bender (at least to date and please God let it be for a long time yet) – the next day I gave up the booze and began the recovery journey that has taken me to this great juncture of my life, where today I can enjoy true personal freedom, restored relationships, a sense of purpose and usefulness and sometimes, like on days like these, true happiness. But with caveat of acceptance that happiness like emotions, thoughts and life itself is fleeting. So, I’m a lucky duck, I get to celebrate two birthdays – my ‘belly button’ birthday and my sobriety birthday and mercifully with no hang-overs to contend with anymore.
So my birthday message (ooh ‘ark at me, do I think I’m the queen or somefink?) to all of you is love life, show loving kindness to yourself and take the time to celebrate you – because in your own way you’re amazing and most definitely worth it. As the man sang last night “My light shines on…”