(Sunrise from Staten Island. Ran a half marathon.)

10.10.10 - My birthday. Seriously RAD one this year. Thanks mom, for pooping me out on a redundant month-day so I can square a dope birthday 33 years later. (Not as rad as this kid, but this is plenty good)

Birthdays are funny. It is universally the day people deem themselves most important. This phenomenon is fairly consistent across almost all cultures. Who was the first person to celebrate a birth day and how it all manages propagate world wide, anyway? Was it jesus? Trained from a very young age, on your birthday you tend to place expectations and hopes for something grand and special to happen. It is a day where friends and family come together to celebrate you as if you are the most important being in the world (when in fact, technically, your importance is probably a ranking somewhere between 0 and a division of 365 among all human population headcount). It is a day where it is perfectly ok to express your wishes and desires and provided that they are reasonable, expect to receive said wishes and desires from loved ones. 

Like almost everyone else in the world, I too thought long and hard about what I might want to do on this special day and with whom I might want to share this with. The divergence stage of ideation included renting a small private island & throw an epic sick party, hopping aboard the transiberian railway and watch the stars twinkle between two communist countries, or spending a weekend in a Costa Rica beach front house with friends, etc. After all, I haven't really done anything beyond occasional small dinners since the age of 16. Then somewhere between thinking and executing, I had an argument with a friend about silly things that got me exploring the difference between "expectation" and  "hope" in relation to birthdays. The difference being one is quantifiable as a demandable indulgence, while the other is probably more a wish.

What you wish for your birthday is equal part a reflection of who you are and what you feel is important to you. In the convergence state I managed to distill the qualities of the options on the table into emotional rewards - what should I hope for from my friends that will make me truly happy. The result isn't epic parties or getting drunk or contributing democratically earned cash to communist agendas in far flung places. It came down to two: letting people who care about me make something special of the occasion on their own terms (and only if they want to); and seeing stars.

Because I didn't end up with a party or a trek across the world I decide to donate what might otherwise be spent on indulgences to Best Friends Animal Society. $1010. Nicely rounded number for the occasion.

(Sunset from Shelter Island ferry, South Fork LI)

I ended up with the best birthday this weekend - did lots of stuff with many people, got lots of shout-outs n wishes (including monks from thailand.. thanks to my weird family), and not only did i see a sea of stars (in East Hamptons, Montauk, and Shelter Island), i felt fully enveloped in immaterial simple pleasures - silence, fresh cut grass, lots of pillows, darkness, salty ocean breeze, the sound of secadas and ruffling trees, achieving goals, being far away, being small, warmth, laughter, food, etc. I got to share those moments with someone who loves them as much as I do. The conscious removal of expectation allowed me to simply roll with whatever comes and enjoy the true gift of human relationship - shared happiness. I feel very lucky to have the people I have in my life, right here at home.

(Farmland along North Fork, LI)

The conversation with John and Caroline from South Africa in Johannesburg kept replaying in the back of my head - "you know it because you feel it in your heart". Caroline reached her hand out to John. The tips of their fingers touched. They smiled, then held hand. In that moment, I felt it too - their love. As I watch the strangers in strange land whom I know nothing of sparkled, I wondered if one day I too will simply know it. I do now.