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Birthday’s occupy an important place in our lives, in our culture. However this is not the case of all cultures, many cultures do not even mark a date of birth or any other birthday afterwards.

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In China a birthday is important, it marks a life and its march forward, think of the Emperor who like other Asian monarchs, Thailand, Cambodia,Laos,Vietnam,Japan is seen as a god. So his life is important and a factor of stability and prosperity, again the Emperor has to be a competent ruler, not always the case. The Chinese wish their Emperor 10,000 more years at each birthday. For families the age of 60 is very important, why, well simply because in China someone who reaches that age has survived often tumultuous events, famine, wars, etc. Instead of a cake you are given a special bowl of chicken broth and longevity noodles, which are very long noodles in a large bowl to be eaten first thing in the morning. Your family will also refer to you as Uncle from that day forward.

In many Muslim countries birthday’s are not celebrated, except for the one of the Prophet. This is also the same in India or in many African countries, there is no birth certificates and your age is a vague notion.

In our world, birthdays have become another consumer packed day, gifts, meals, drinks going to the restaurant, to bars, going out somewhere. Important that no one forgets your birthday, it is nice to be remembered on that day, yes and no, I would argue that it very much depends on the person, the age and the surroundings.

In Italy the tradition is that you invite people to celebrate with you, often there is a sweet, a pastry, a cake, a glass of wine, you offer it to your friends in celebration of your birth. Then you can also celebrate not on the day you were born but on the Name Day of your Saint. In my case Saint Laurent is celebrated on August 10, I was born in March.

As a child my mom would bake a cake, it usually was a Betty Crocker mix and she would shape it and decorate it with a pattern of sorts, always a surprise. We celebrated at home and with close family, none of this going to a restaurant and inviting 50 kids. My Mom’s cakes were always the best tasting.

I remember when I turned 20, though I saw it as a turning point it was nothing special and I remember wondering what the fuss was about. On n’a pas tous les jours 20 ans. Other decades, 30-40-50 where celebrated abroad in various foreign Capitals where we lived.

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So in a little less than 2 months I will turn 60. Sort of a magical marker, you become a Senior citizen, you are entitled to seniors discount, people look at you differently either with respect but more often in our society with derision or scorn.

I see this Anniversary as the last and new chapter where you can change something about your life and it is also a chance to reflect on what could be in the last part of your life.

My life so far has been one of travel and of being able to live in various continents of the world, seeing political and social events, living in various cultures quite unlike ours here in Canada and meeting people with different experiences. There has been no routine in my life and no dullness, maybe moments of boredom, but overall it has been rich. In many ways I could say that Will and I have been on a kaleidoscope of life, with ever changing colours and shapes. I wish to continue with more experiences which will continue to make our lives enjoyable. Planning for what is next, as much as anyone can plan the future to the limits of what Fate will allow.

Life as a kaleidoscope, ever changing, intricate, beautiful.

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Kaleidoscope Abelia Plant

So long as you live and in whatever circumstances the kaleidoscope of life may place you, think for yourself and act in accordance with the conclusions of that thinking avoid so far as possible drifting with the current of the mob or being too easily influenced by the outward manifestation of things. Take your own look beneath the surface and don’t trust others to look for you. If you will follow this rule, you will make the most out of your life.

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