Our American culture – where we’re taught from a very young age to never to talk to strangers – is different from other cultures that find it very rude and inappropriate to fail to fully acknowledge other people that come your way. It’s all about the individual here. Nobody would deny that. Most people want it that way.
Or do they?
Yesterday was my birthday. Believe me, I’ve had some real crazy parties over the years (I may detail some of them eventually in my therapeutic confessional blog here), but I am not the type of person who goes out of my way to celebrate my birthday. In fact, I’m almost irritated at times when people insist that I go out and do things I don’t really want to do.
My plan today was to work, eat healthy, maybe go to the gym, and then come home and watch the Laker game. I should have known that I’d really be obligated to give up my free time and be emotionally blackmailed to eat out (which opposes my goals). I suppose this makes me selfish and ungrateful to the people in my life that love me the most, some type of parasite to humanity – though definitely one focused on his goals.
But something happened. People started writing token happy birthday comments on Facebook. My phone started ringing. Texts started coming in. People I love that are out of sight and therefore out of mind most of the time appeared for a few minutes to wish me well.
My plan to be a focused, goal-oriented machine (some might argue that lonely, quiet martyr is more descriptive) failed horribly.
It’s a simple truth of life. Everybody likes to be wished happy birthday. Even if nobody remembered for real and it was Facebook that reminded them, and none of their Facebook friends ever posts on their wall on any other day all year, it still feels good to hear from people.
Someone else taking 10 seconds out of their day to say something positive really makes a big difference – particularly if you are used to putting your head down and working to exhaustion. Every year I pretend I’m some silent, Clint Eastwood type that can kick ass without needing or even wanting any recognition. But the truth is, we need people. We thrive on acknowledgement.
It provides meaning to an otherwise meaningless rat-race.