I was fortunate enough to be born on December 31st. My birthday corresponds to how we think of the calendar year: The year begins on January first, but isn’t completed until the end of December. But it’s contrary to how birthdays are generally viewed; for example, we may turn 30 on our birthday and we think we are thirty for the next year. But in fact, when we turned 30 we have completed our thirtieth year and the next day we are commencing our 31st year. To think of it another way, when you are born (your birth day) you are not considered to be one years old; you are not considered one until after you have lived for one year.

As I’ve written in my previous blog posts, I used to be very shy and introverted. I can remember many times when I have spent my birthday alone, even though I might have been in a crowd of people celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. The fact that New Year’s Eve is my birthday is often lost in the revelry and I am not one to boast.

As my birthday is the completion of a year of living, I have found it to be a time of reflection, introspection, and goal setting. As I’ve grown older, though, I have learned that the past is gone and there’s nothing I can do about it. So there is less retrospection and more assessment of where I am and planning for where I want to be.

I used to dwell on the past, my mistakes, and my lack of accomplishments and unfulfilled goals. But I’ve learned that there’s nothing that I can do about what’s come and gone. I only have the Now, the present moment, in which I can live and act. To live in the past one loses the precious, fleeting present moment in which to be happy and alive.

Likewise, the future is not yet here. To live in the future, to worry about it, to daydream about what might be, is to waste the present moment. Now, I’m one that easily drifts into daydreams, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a limit to the amount of fantasy that we can have in our lives before it interferes with our ability to live a fulfilling present.

Of course, I believe in setting concrete goals, not just as New Year’s resolutions, but on a regular basis throughout the year. We need a direction in our lives, something that gives our lives purpose and passion. If we don’t have a clear idea of where we’re going with our lives, then we wander around aimlessly, lost in the fog of fantasy.

So, as many of you will be celebrate bringing in 2013, I will have a simple birthday with those closest to me. I will be 54 this year, though I’ve been thinking that I was 54 all year long (just like we’ve been saying it’s 2012 all year long). And the next day, New Year’s Day, I will tell people that I’m 55. This infuriates my wife, especially when some government official asks how old I am and I’m dumbfounded; “Fifty-three? Fifty-four? How old am I?”

Age doesn’t matter, the past doesn’t matter, the future doesn’t matter. What matters is that you live in the present moment; that you live in it to the fullest and find happiness in it. 

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