Monday, August 17, 2009

Me and my birthdays

The following is an entry to my Yahoo blog last year after my birthdays. Since yahoo blogs are closing and this entry says something about me, now I am another year older, I thought it's appropriate that I copy it here with some small modifications as part of this new "Me all Me" blog.

I was born on the eighteenth day of the sixth month of the twenty-fourth year of the Republic of China, which was really July 18, 1935 A.D. As most of the people in my parents’ generation, however, life’s festivities such as the new years and the birthdays are mostly celebrated according to the lunar calendar dates. So for most parts of my grown up years at home, my birthday is always the 18th day of the 6th month of the lunar calendar. The other dates never really registered in my mind. When I applied for a passport for the first time to prepare coming to the U.S. for advanced studies, I filled the form for my birthday without thinking as 06-18-1935. That, of course, is really not my birthday but had become my official birthday for the rest of my life. The result of all these is that makes me strangely to be a person of three birthdays: the lunar birthday which my parents celebrated with me when they were alive; my official birthday on all the documents; and a regular solar calendar birthday which is July 18th, which should be my solar birthday in the first place but I never celebrate. I don't usually celebrate any of them anyway, but somehow every year only when all three of the birthdays had come and gone before I am really able to feel that I am finally getting a year older.

Today, July 20, 2008, is the 18th day of the 6th month on the lunar calendar this year. Yes, today is my birthday – the last of my three birthdays. I am really 73 years old now! What's the big deal of being 73? Well, to me its a psychological milestone. I suspect many Chinese may feel this way also. Because at 73, I am officially exceeded the life span of Confucius. One of the Confucius’ famous sayings that most Chinese have learned at one time or another and can recite readily is this: "吾十有五,而志于學,三十而立,四十而不惑,五十而知天命,六十而耳順,七十而從心所欲,不踰矩。" which can be approximately translated as:
At age fifteen, I dedicated myself to learning.
At thirty, I established my own stand.
At forty, I extricated myself from delusions.
At fifty, I fully perceived my predestination.
At sixty, I can recognize truthfulness from all that I’m hearing.
At seventy, I can follow the wish of my heart’s content without fretting about wrong doing.
Then he died at age 72.

So being someone who made it into exceeding Confucius’ life span, to me, it also signifies that I am now entering a brand new reign in life which is totally free from the shadow that Confucius cast over Chinese life for over 2.5 millenniums. As one whose ambition is to be a centenarian, this is certainly an important first step toward that goal.

Que Sera, Sera, I am on my way!

Wait a minute. No one can make it here on their own. Everyone who celebrates birthday should always be thankful, thanks be to God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. It is Him that decide whatever will be, will be.

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