BIRTHDAYS: The Simplest Gift

IT’S LIKE LIVING IN A TRANCE. Like robots, we wake up, commute, work; we don’t think, we don’t feel. We exchange a few words, watch TV, and maybe a little social media to relax, and then off to bed. And there’s the alarm clock again and it’s back to the same old slog. But then there are those days when it seems we’ve been reborn, as if we’re alive: birthdays, vacations, holidays, New Year’s Eve. And, OK, when your favourite team wins the Superbowl.

And we all flood into the streets of Facebook – beep, beep! – traffic jams and cheering, happy faces in photos, wishes from all the friends, nice words . . . It’s a celebration. But it only lasts a day and then it’s gone, like a butterfly.

The moment the minute hand goes past midnight, it’s back to the grind. Just like Cinderella – off with the glass slippers, on with the rags. Turn on the news, turn on the doom and gloom, and the long faces. And if it happens to be a cloudy day, it’s even worse. It’s like being in a funeral procession.

We learned back in school that there are 365 days in the year. But what we didn’t learn is that every day is a gift. Every day is your birthday. Birthdays are in your heart and not on the calendar. Open the gift of each day and enjoy it.
You’ll only realise what you’ve lost when it’s too late – the joy you didn’t experience, the love you didn’t share, the gratitude you didn’t feel, the beauty you didn’t see, the good you didn’t do.

Those things were always present, but you weren’t. Only on your birthday and those other ‘special’ days did you knock on their door, and they eagerly opened to welcome you in.

There once was a wise prince in India. He understood that every day is a celebration. But he didn’t want to forget it. So he had his servants remind him every day. Every morning when he woke up, he’d lie in a coffin and they would chant for him. After the ritual, he would climb out of the coffin and celebrate the day. He lived life. Every day.

Only when you are nearing death will you know what life means.

Start living your life every day.


Discover the international bestselling phenomenon, The Simplest Gift by Stefanos Xenakis; available here.

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