So, it has been another 365 days for me! My birthday in self-quartine during a worldwide pandemic was a rare opportunity to engage in a personal ritual. And ritual, as scientific studies, sociologists, poets, and theologians note, is vital to well-being, as well as celebrating life’s cycles and events.
The day began with purification and cleansing. Enjoyed a hydrotherapy or contrast shower, alternating hot/cold water, rub down with loofah and lemon verbena soap, and lavished on the verbena lotion. A tickling of the teeth with a toothbrush and mint toothpaste. The birthday suit was now ready!
Delectable Tidbits and Morsels of Delight
Since my usual restaurant/club combo was off the table, so to speak, the day before B-Day, I scored my favorite nibbles.
Guacamole and chips. Croissants. Raspberries. Brie and bread. Lettuce, portobello mushrooms, carrot sticks, and heirloom tomatoes. Cake — chocolate cake. Sparkling water. Tequila. I’m self-quarantining with a friend/roommate; I didn’t tell him it was my birthday. I just invited him to help himself to any food he found delicious.
Began the day with coffee, croissant, and raspberries. Said a brief benediction honoring the workers whose efforts allowed me to take home a feast!
Dance unifies and invigorates the body, mind, and spirit. It’s been said that we should dance as if no one is watching. Just as well, as I shook what my mama gave me wearing only my birthday suit. Musical inspiration included Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” and Weird Al Yankovic’s “Happy Birthday.”
Many cultures suggest offering up gratitude for the good things in our lives. My birthday in a pandemic seemed to be the right opportunity to make a list of the good things that I’m grateful for.
It’s the perfect time to appreciate things I don’t normally think of, like my ancestors, chocolate, the sound of rain against the window, the gift of literacy to make a list, and the pen and paper to pull it off.
Sit with It
I sat in silence and meditated on a mantra, focusing on the blessing of drawing the next breath in this crazy, fun, disruptive, brilliant, brutal, and bedazzling life.
I fulfilled my own tradition that each year, I like to spend the day sampling the pleasures and areas of focus for the upcoming year. So I do some work. This year I outlined and researched facts for an essay. Other years I’ve penned poems, proofread text, crafted media kits, edited others’ writings. I also like to sit down and peruse a few pages of inspiring work. Like erotic literature. Humor. Non-fiction. A best-selling novel. Theological missives. It’s all good.
Contacting and Connecting with the Elders
I sent messages to family members and tight-knit friends of the family, who have been there for me since the doctor slapped me on the butt, and I wasn’t sure whether to go towards the bright light or away from it.
During this period of the pandemic, my thoughts are with respecting and loving the elders, to whom I owe so much. Okay, my missive was just a brief text, fun photo, or inspirational quote, but it’s the thought that counts. And I thought that it would be fun. Yeah!
Got it Going On with Yo-Yo Ma
I availed myself of Yo-Yo Ma’s Royal Albert Hall performance before a live audience, playing from memory, and with only a brief intermission, all six of Bach’s solo Cello Suites. Over two-and-a-half hours of transcendentally gorgeous music, which Ma gifted to the world on the eve of his sixtieth birthday.
Saluting the Sunset
Friend/roommate and I met at sunset on the terrace and saluted the setting sun while sipping tequila and swapping stories as it slipped beyond the horizon.
To get into the mood, the day leading up to B-day, I watched YouTube videos for inspiration on celebrating a lock-down birthday during what the Chinese call “interesting times.” Favorites included:
- Give back and pay it forward to others on that special day. Find inspiration at The Birthday Project.
- Consider new ways to think about what celebrating a birthday looks like.
- Discover what it’s really all about. Here, the masterful philosopher Alain de Botton imparts the Meaning of Life in a joyous 60-second video.
- De Botton shares the history and power behind rituals.
- Metta Moon’s Emily Capshaw creates a thoughtful and personal meditation on birthdays that will fulfill your inner hunger for contemplation and beauty.
If life is a balancing act, birthdays can feel like the wire stretched tautly under an acrobat’s feet. During this time of isolating together, sheltering in place, and facing life and death, eating chocolate cake has an extra sweetness.