Birthdays are funny things. They come along, regular as clockwork – that one day of the year where something is supposed to happen – something is supposed to feel different. Another year older, not necessarily wiser. It’s a day that we celebrate, for reasons I can’t quite understand. I’m always a bit uncomfortable with the attention, and the fussiness of it all. I tell myself it’s just another day, but then, I know I’d still feel disappointed if no one wished me a happy birthday, or if I didn’t get a single card. It’s culturally ingrained – the day you were born is a day to celebrate and enjoy the life you live! Have fun! Have some cake! How does it feel to be another year older? Did you get lots of presents? You are having a party aren’t you?
I did have a nice day today though. I went to the temple very early in the morning, relishing the sweet dawn prayers in the darkened temple room. If nothing else, my birthday helps me to remember Krishna. It serves as a yearly marker – a reminder of all the ways that Krishna has protected and guided me throughout the past year. I reflected on this a few days ago, and wrote a prayer:
On Gaurapurnima night in 1987, I was blessed to be born to parents that already worshipped you. Now 22 years have passed. Though a short time in the scheme of things, considering what some people achieve in two decades, my progress towards you has been pitifully slow. Taking my fortunate birth and upbringing for granted, I have squandered the wealth of knowledge and opportunity that is offered to me. The passing years have rendered me scarcely more intelligent than that slippery, screaming baby, being passed from hand to hand. Yet I see the ways in which you draw me closer, day by day.
I humbly pray that just as the fixed position of a shining full moon remains unmoved by the passing clouds, may your moonlike presence within the passing lifetimes of this soul remain ever steady. In the daytime, the moon becomes less visible, and sometimes in times of happiness, I forget you are there, or ignore you. But please remain there my Lord. I was once a worm, and once a tree. I was once a man, and once I flew over mountains. Now I am known as Jahnavi, and after 22 years, I still pray to one day be your servant.