Every year when my birthday comes around, everyone asks how I’m going to celebrate and the answer is always the same. I spend every birthday reflecting on my life and what got me to this stage of life. There’s a list of things I like to do on my birthday that pay homage to various stages in my life. Without these things, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
My parents worked different shifts as a kid and sometimes we didn’t have enough time to cook. Every week we’d get some McDonalds. Two cheeseburgers, fries and 2 apple pies. McDonalds was a staple of my childhood and every year, I conquer some delicious food from the Golden Arches to remind me of simpler times.
Play a Computer Game
Computers and the Internet were becoming popular in Middle School. The first computer game I ever played was Quest for Glory on our Hewlett Packard computer with Windows 3.11 running at 133MHz. With the rise of the Internet, I started playing a Quake 2 mod known as Gloom. It was essentially Starcraft disguised as a first-person shooter with a great online community. On December 31, 1999, I ushered in the millennium as a Wraith spitting acid at Grunts on the Homeworld map. To this day, I have yet to find a game of the same caliber. Every year, I play a computer game hoping that I will one day feel that sense of community again.
With my body quickly deteriorating, I play basketball every birthday to see if I still have a love for the game.”
I spent most of my time in Middle School playing video and computer games. It wasn’t until High School when I felt the need to become more social. I joined the cross country team and also started playing a lot of basketball with my friends. I built a lot of lasting friendships in cross country and basketball. While cross country kept me in shape, the one sport I was addicted to was basketball. I remember during the winter, my friends and I would pour hot water down the driveway to thaw the ice so we could play. I would probably not be in the shape I am today if I didn’t play so much basketball. With my body quickly deteriorating, I play basketball every birthday to see if I still have a love for the game.
“Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom.”
– Mr. Rasczak
Watch Starship Troopers
I went to college studying Biomedical Engineering but didn’t really have any plans for what to do after I graduated. Most people were pushing for some type of medical profession but I felt like that wouldn’t be enough. I had a lot of friends who were in the military or were going to be in the military and saw how much pride they had in being able to serve their country. Even when I watched the Olympics, the athletes always talked about how it was an honor to represent the United States. In college, I developed a sense of patriotism that eventually led me to join the United States Navy. While the Starship Troopers movie satirizes blind nationalism, it oddly hits the spot when describing the mental process of joining the military and the growth an individual goes through as their career progresses. Conflicted with the decision to join up, Rico receives advice from his teacher and future lieutenant, “Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom.” This line resonates with me to this day.
Go to the Office
Ever since joining the work force in 2013, I have known nothing but work. The first time I ever took a day off work, my boss had to use the, “Don’t come in Tuesday, that’s an order” line. I have lost so many leave days over the years because I find comfort in being useful and being able to contribute to an organization. If I did not have my job, I would have nothing else. Every year for my birthday, I stop by my office to accomplish something even if it is just to send one email. I believe it was that classic Disney Movie, “Brink!” where the Dad tells his son, “Skating is what you do; it’s not who you are.” In my case, I’ll have to disagree with the dad and say that working is what I do and who I am.
There you have it everyone, an explanation for why I do what I do on my birthday every year. I challenge all of you to come up with a birthday list that’ll help you reflect on your lives as well. Feel free to call it “The Birthday List Challenge,” share it on Facebook, and make it go viral.