May 25th, 2014 2:08am
Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me… Happy birthday dear Brian….. 20 years ago today marks the unmiraculous event of my birth. One of the millions of babies that day that were reported to have sprung from their mother´s womb. Nothing is really so special about that. As you might assume, I never was one to think much of birthdays or holidays. I have a strange fixation to meet everyone else´s birthday wishes and ensure that they receive the self-entitled happiness that they wish to have, but I gain no other enjoyment from such days. Buy today is different. I want someone to be here with me telling me ¨Happy birthday!¨ and participating in a meaningless celebration of the anything-but-extraordinary achievement of surviving another year in America.
Instead, I am sitting on a Van Galder bus at 2:00 in the morning anxiously awaiting my departure. This anticipation is killing me. It was only yesterday my friends had made a small, but noble gesture of holding a celebration complete with homemade cake, off-tune singing (in which I joined in on and made it worse), and subsequent discussions of the mundane activities of our lives after the consumption of said cake. I honestly miss that mundane moment because it was with people I knew. A concept I was familiar with. Ecuador is not only a foreign country, but also just a foreign idea entirely. Everything about it is entirely new. A whole new world (cue Disney music here). Was I really ready for that?
In thinking about this, I realized how much I am going to miss Madison. As boring as I have found it to become, I will miss it. Not because I perceive Wisconsin as my home, but because it isn´t Ecuador, a place where I have to start all over. I never really had a place where I call home, so it was easy for me to detach myself from a location because I never set any emotional roots. But again, today is different. This time I feel as if I have branched out and built connections, finally starting to get a sense of a place where I belong. Now I am ripping it all out and leaving the bare ground exposed. A mark of what used to be there.
In the Amazon, disturbances occur in the rainforest that cause patches of uninhabited Earth to be exposed to the sun, which wouldn´t normally be able to shine down without the disturbance. With the old plants gone, the disturbance will allow other plants to thrive by using the new open space created and often the nutrients from the fallen (now decaying) tree, to grow. Death begets life in the Amazon.
I have left Madison, but I will be coming back in a month. My departure means that someone else can have a job or internship that I did not apply for. I know I will be back in Madison and next to nothing will have changed, but my disappearance from the Madison ecosystem means little-to-nothing. Life and death in the Amazon works like arrival and departure in Madison.
So I feel a little insignificant in the grand scheme of things… A feeling warranted, and amplified by my personal fears of the unknown and my bitterness of my so-called ¨special day¨. After walking back to my apartment from the birthday party, my friend told me that you have to find the meaning in life yourself. Or at least that´s what I took from the conversation. Everything that you said or have done will eventually be forgotten and there´s no way that everyone will participate in the effort to memorialize you, so find you own meaning. Even the ones that we hold so dear to our heart will one day be entirely forgotten. My own meaning. (Gosh, why didn´t I speak to this friend earlier?) So I guess now all I can do is put my best foot forward and hope that what I am doing will bring meaning to my life. Enrich my life and the lives of those around me.
Aside from this early morning epiphany on a moving vehicle, there´s one other good thing about today. I am supposed to get a wish. That´s what the folklore says at least. Maybe Ecuador is going to kick my ass. But maybe it will be the time of my life that everyone keeps telling me it will be. The only thing that I know for certain is that I won´t know until I´m there. All I can do is hope.
Happy birthday to me.