Simplicity. It is what I love about the outdoors. When you’re hiking, it is amazing how small things make a big difference and things that seem to matter in everyday life, just don’t. It’s my birthday this weekend. I don’t mention this because I want a bunch of people from the outdoor community to wish me a happy birthday, but to say that as we get older, it is always interesting to look back at how our birthday celebrations have changed. When I was younger I always wanted my birthday held at McDonald’s with a handful of my friends and my parents and, if they weren’t annoying me that day, my older brother and sister. These birthday parties would inevitably turn into some kind of chicken nugget eating contest (no this was not last year!) with an unhealthy amount of sweet and sour sauce being consumed. Patrons would end up getting annoyed with the crazy kids causing a ruckus in the corner and end up rolling their eyes and taking their order to go. I can’t believe how much joy I got out of the simplest things when I was younger. Games made from little plastic toys and the happiness that came from getting an extra toy in my kid’s meal.
This year I am looking forward to taking things back to the simplicity of those birthdays of my childhood. A day on the trail and a few beers with friends and family. Birthdays are a milestone, but also a time to enjoy what we have, not what we want. I recently had a friend invite me to his 50th birthday party where the admission to get in is to bring non-perishable food items to donate to a local pantry. Well done, sir!
Maybe in another 20 years I will be fascinated at how simple my birthdays were and want something more extravagant, but I won’t hold my breath. We all celebrate in different ways, but I encourage you not to look past the small things. What you remember on future birthdays may just be the chicken nugget eating contests.