Meditations on a Birthday

In Asia, only the oldest and youngest are given birthdays. In this way, the birthday is a landmark. But in the West, the birthday cake is often carted out every year, regardless of whether one has achieved so many milestones. And if one is to observe the birthday, does one give or receive gifts - like in life? Rarely does a year pass without such consideration.
The day can pass with as many vampires present as in the popular literature of the age. The birthday is less important than engaging in the battle to preserve the right to happiness in one's tiny little life. And by right to happiness, I mean taking a certain dose of acceptance that things do not necessarily have to go the way one expects or hopes - yet finding space beyond petty circumstance for expression and life.
To do this, it helps to experiment in how one lives one's life. What happens when I raise myself up? What happens when I lower myself, and observe people from my smallness? I have had more success in the latter, for people reveal their true colours when they do not perceive a threat. However, the problem is that few people have respect for what is small. If one is no longer within another person's sights, one cannot expect to be consulted or given space at the dinner table. At the time of the birthday, one can tally up the pluses and minuses of various experiments, and make changes.
With humour, of course. Because all it takes is a little bit of wit to turn an entire situation upside-down: any vampires can get stuffed back into a cheap paperback; sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. And in the end, it was the jester who could tell the hardest truths. And in the end, does it really matter if one plays the fool so long as one is intent on learning?
There is such a thing as the interior life. Some may laugh at what to them seems a preposterous preposition. But who is that laugh on? From ancient times, as in the example of mnemonic practice, a palace has been known to exist in the mind. But one cannot invite friends to this palace, unless, paradoxically, they have a palace of their own. So no, it is not conducive to all society. And so yes, one is back to the treacherous waters of Appearance if one wants to engage a larger audience. If one considers birth to mean being born into that world, too.
The happiest people I have ever known have been those who worked with what they were given from birth - those who took whatever gifts they had, and refined them. To put this another way: some of the stoics who were the greatest rhetoricians were not such great stoics in practice.
The more education one has, the more sand one has to sift through, from which to pick out gold. The other side of that coin is that such education means that one has a palace - which is only apparent to those with similar education, or some kind of depth. Birthdays are not universal.

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