This week’s newspaper column is a bit self-serving–but your birthday only comes round once a year:
“You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.” ~ The Beatles
Unlike Queen Elizabeth who shares the date of my birthday, there will be no grinning portrait of me to remember the day. Yesterday, a black and white photo of the Queen in all her grandmotherly glory was released commemorating her 88th birthday. According to the Associated Press on the CBC News website, the picture taken by British photographer David Bailey, is a “black-and-white photograph……showing the queen smiling broadly”—a side she does not often reveal to the public.
Shown wearing a three strand pearl necklace and what appears to be pearl and diamond earrings, she is sporting a dress designed by her personal assistant and senior dresser. Of the Queen, Bailey stated that he has “always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman.”
In contrast, my birthday will be a private affair. Bailey, who is “celebrated for his portrait photography” of stars such as Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Johnny Depp will not be on my doorstep to take any candids of me, and neither will the Queen’s senior dresser be on hand to help me don her private designs (as the Queen has let her granddaughter-in-law Duchess Kate borrow her to help her dress for her many downunder walkabouts and George’s play dates).
The Queen will be celebrating her birthday on April 21st and then again in June with pomp and circumstance when the weather is a bit more fair. The ceremony in June is marked with a Trooping the Colour parade in London for her loyal subjects and eager tourists. My birthday will be celebrated by a few friends and family—some gathered to see me blow my candles out after making some inane wish, which according to two horoscopes that I read over the weekend, may come true. I am fairly sure the Queen does not depend on horoscopes to plan her future, but as with most things, I cannot really be sure.
Our shared horoscope in The Globe and Mail wants us to give “some serious thought to what we will be doing over the coming year because it could be one of the best ever.” The National Post was equally optimistic, stating that the sun will be entering our sign and boosting our energy for the next four weeks. Not only that but we “will attract favourable situations and important people” so we are to “milk it for all it is worth.” The Queen likely attracts “favourable situations and important people” all the time so I am pretty confident she does not need to do any milking. I, on the other hand, will take full advantage.
Birthdays are like another New Year’s to me — a time of reflection, a time to take a tally of life so far, and a time to think about what I would like to complete on my life (not bucket) list. The anniversary of our births can be a kind of wake-up call—another year under our belt, but another waiting in the wings, hopefully to take flight and not a nosedive. At this stage, “the arrogance of youth” is just a memory, but our younger selves still live on. I would like to think that I am wiser now, but what I am is more cognizant of the fact that I am not. The process of gaining wisdom is ongoing—and with every step forward, I recognize that I will never be a sage on a mountaintop handing out advice—I will always be a student, never the teacher.
My wish for the coming years? To live in the present (as hokey as that is, it is as most clichés are, true) and to plan for my future. Most importantly I will keep the lessons of the past, but leave behind the regrets. I will always be a dreamer but one with feet firmly planted on terra firma, someone who believes in the ethereal, but accepts reality (after wrestling it to the ground), and I will continue to try earn the mantle bestowed on the Queen by her photographer, David Bailey–that of a “strong woman”.