Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

The Big Three Oh

What’s in a date? Why do they matter so much to so many?

Every year on my birthday I tend to keep it laid back. Most years I’m working that day and generally go into work for extra hours, neglecting to mention the importance of the date to coworkers. For the first few years of my twenties my family would get together for a dinner out on that day. As the years passed the importance of the date itself slipped. It became a reason to get the family together to go out for dinner within a few days, then a week, then a few weeks. Last year it took us until August to finally find a time that worked for our schedules. While I think that might have slipped a little too far, the general principle still works for me.

Coming from a family with divorced parents, the significance of dates has always been harder anyway. Thanksgiving is a set date. So is Christmas. But when you celebrate it with two separate family units, when you still are close to both parents, you start to learn an important principle of physics – you cannot be in two different places at the same time. And so Thanksgiving became a matter of time with one parent on the Thursday and one on the Friday. Christmas became a split between Christmas eve up until noon on Christmas day with one and noon onwards through the holidays with the other. It reinforced for me the importance of sharing. And of compromise. And open communication.

And the fact that a date on a calendar is just that. It only has the importance that we give it. By itself it is just a number on an arbitrary scale we’ve created to break down a concept (time) that many argue we’ve invented and doesn’t really exist itself. So what does it matter what day it is? If we want a reason to get together with those we care about, then do it because you want to. If you want to celebrate being older, do it. Being in a different time zone, it wasn’t even technically my birthday when I started getting the wishes. And it will be tomorrow here when I hit 30 years exactly.

So what of the fact that today is the day I call my 30th birthday? It is a birthday, and a pretty round number at that. It is a year that many people dread. Yet I don’t really care about the age, or getting older. I’m living out of a backpack and writing this while sipping port from the bottle. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten old per se. At least not fully matured.

So what of the fact that my plans for this evening are cooking a stew for myself, writing, doing laundry, catching up on my journal, and other such productive things? I’ve been working for eleven days straight and haven’t slept or really had a moment of down time in nearly two weeks. This is the first night that stuff hasn’t lined up. That it just so happens to be my birthday doesn’t seem to matter to me. I’m going out with friends tomorrow night for drinks and a celebration of sorts. I had breakfast with a friend today and smoothies with another. I’ve gotten social time in, and will get the party soon enough. Just not on the exact date. And I’m fine with that.

So happy 30th birthday me.

I’m going to put my energy towards spending the rest of this trip the way I want to, even if that means that sometimes the buckle down and sort myself out times turn out to be the stereotypical “social” times. For now, I have laundry to go hang up to dry.

2 comments on “The Big Three Oh

  1. Steph
    July 19, 2012

    Happy birthday, Justin :). Regardless of the significance a date holds, it is a real pleasure to have you physically on this planet at this time. 30 revolutions of the Sun; that’s pretty awesome.
    I started craving Trippy Taco halfway through reading this; next time I eat it, it’ll be in your honour. *smiles*

    All the best.

  2. Steve Grace
    July 19, 2012

    Don’t get too hung up on the number v. maturity. Look at me – many more years and not an ounce of maturity in site. Keep having fun!

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This entry was posted on July 19, 2012 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney).

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