Happy belated Thanksgiving, those of you in Americaland. I’ve got orientation at my new job this entire week (they take it pretty seriously, I gather) after which I’m actually starting to work so my life’s gonna be a bit hectic for a while, I think.
Today’s my birthday! Most years I forget that it’s happening and it’s not until my mom calls or I notice posts on Facebook that I remember, but 21 is an important one. For whatever reason.
I started pondering this morning about how we think about birthdays.
Most of us, I suspect, think about birthdays in a discrete way. We’re X age throughout the whole year, and as soon as our birthday hits we’re X+1 (The only exception that I can think of is when people say “I’m X and a half,” but I’m pretty sure that’s something that mostly happens when you’re young and you’ve got to seize onto every bit of age you can get). It’s certainly what we do legally – someone who’s 17 years and 6 months old isn’t considered 97.22% of an adult, they’re not an adult, but as soon as they hit 18 they are an adult.
Apart from making things easier it doesn’t make a lot of sense, though. The reason I don’t feel any older today than I did yesterday is because the way things actually work – on a continuous scale. I’m a day older than I was yesterday, not a year. But as much as I intuitively understand that age works continuously, not discretely, my mind continues to want to think about it in the latter way. It makes me wonder if that’s primarily societal or biological – do we put so much emphasis on birthdays that people simply become accustomed to thinking about them as the switchover point, or are we wired to want to simplify time into discrete chunks that are easier to think about? As with anything it’s probably a bit of both.
Anyways, that’s not going to stop me from celebrating. Happy Wednesday!