Today is my birthday. Birthdays are so often a time when we are flooded with new things. A new year, of course, another lap on this organic spaceship around our home star. But also a time when traditionally I have added new things to my life. A new piece of art for the wall, new shoes, a new coffee maker, a new tie, a nice shirt. All this newness takes a toll.
First, of course, you must make decisions about what new things you want, all depending on who is asking. What is the right kind of gift to ask for? Will what I’m thinking of be too expensive? Is it not expensive enough that the person will be offended? Will the person I want to buy me a gift actually do it? What a drag.
Then you actually get the new things. It’s a burden to care for something new. What are this new thing’s quirks? Should I fold it this way or that? What buttons should I press to stop that beeping? It’s only three days old, why isn’t it working? Answering all of these questions takes time.They feel heavy. Knowing I need to answer them weighs on me.
And then there’s the weight of worrying about the new thing, trying to preserve its newness for as long as possible. No children, you can’t touch this thing or learn about it—this is a new thing and not for you. Did I forget to lock my brand new car? What if someone tries to steal it? The new couch has a spill on it! I dropped my new phone! The screen is shattered. Now this new thing is just a broken thing! I need a new new thing to replace it.
Of course, there are times when something new is to be cherished—a new life, a new friend, a new partner. These new people are a joy to learn about. What do they love? What are they thinking, and why? How can I add value to their life? What kinds of jokes give them belly laughs?
How much less burdened would my life feel? How much more time would I have? How many more meaningful relationships could I cultivate?