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Birthdays rub me the wrong way. None moreso than my own. I don’t think this is the right way to feel, but it is how I feel.

Stop me if my desperate need for genuine validation is showing, but the idea of undue celebration or praise makes me sick.

That moment when you realise that the nice person in the foyer after your show is saying all the nice things about your work because they feel like they have to, brings me dread.

I despise my birthday like I despised the football participation trophies I got handed every year as a kid. I was crap at football. I knew it, my Mum knew it, the coach knew it, and my team knew it. But I was celebrated anyway. Why?

Why should I be celebrated for simply surviving another year?

After 23 of these, I think I finally get it.

We should celebrate birthdays because surviving is an act of showing up.

Surviving is hard sometimes. So to be able to do it, year after year, with a steadfast consistency is actually quite incredible.

Birthdays are the markers we can use to measure how well we are undertaking the delicate work of carrying on.

Some stand out, others are bundled up, and some skip by far too fast – but there they are. Every year. One of the only guarantees we have.

I’m doing better at surviving than I was a few of these ago. For once, I’m looking forward to the next one.

There’s a lot of panic being spread at the moment. Many of us are exhausted, worried and unsure. Some of us feel contained, maybe even trapped.

But, If you’re self-isolating and you aren’t sick, we aren’t trapped in the slightest. While we can’t go out anywhere there will be large groups of other people, we aren’t caged in our homes.

Take a midnight walk. Visit a nature reserve. Watch the sun set over an isolated beach.

Restrictions are sometimes opportunities to grow.

It starts with us asking ourselves where we are.

Then we consider why we’re there.

Followed by us asking, “Where could we be?”

We consider how we could get there.

We act (hopefully).

We analyse whether or not we’re getting there.

Then we ask ourselves where we are…

The question is no longer: “when will it hit us?”

The question is: “how well can we spread its impact?”

We only have so many beds and even less trained hands.

This is no longer about how risky or inconvenient this situation is for us as individuals. It’s about how well we can unify to protect those who are most vulnerable among us.

We each get to decide whether we’re going to be a part of the problem or the solution.

If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.

Alan Watts

Death comes to us all, so it’s nothing worth being too afraid of. One day, it will become as effortless as breathing.

Until that day, planning too far ahead in the finite game of life is a fool’s errand. Milk every day you get for what it’s worth.

The fact that we never know the day we’ll die should riddle us with inspiration, not fear. Each day we get comes with a new opportunity to make the most of it.

Things we should do:

  • be especially friendly to retail and hospitality workers
  • pay close attention to our hygiene and cleanliness
  • keep an eye on the latest government advice and follow it

Things we probably shouldn’t do:

  • create scarcity by stockpiling food and toilet paper
  • ignore suggestions from health professionals
  • give any further attention to anyone who still think this is an orchestrated ruse to introduce a conspiratorial vaccine.

There are some people just not worth arguing against. We’re all tired. Let’s give it a rest.

The frustrating thing about panic is that it’s incredibly difficult to be talked out of it.

From where you’re standing, it could be obvious that someone else’s panic isn’t rooted in reason or logic. But telling them this is rarely enough to relieve them (or stop them from filling their attic with toilet paper).

Because from where they’re standing, your calmness might be only be registering as blind, delusional ignorance in the face of a serious threat.

Panic is a defence mechanism people usually have to prove themselves out of.

We can offer others the tools them need to rationalise themselves out of panic, but the rationalising is ultimately up to them.

Any attempt to force logic down the throat of someone in a panic spiral might only send them further into panic.

So, even in the most turbulent and frustrating times, we should focus on sharpening our own thinking before trying to alter anyone else’s.

Bibliotherapy is the prescribed reading of specific literature for thereputic purposes.

While it has only been defined this way for a short while, human beings have engaged in bibliotherapy for as long as we have physically recorded stories; ancient Greeks once called their libraries pharmacies containing ‘medicines for the soul’.

Bibliotherapy involves texts being prescribed at times when they may prove most thereputic to an individual, and they can prove useful in a variety of ways.

Some stories model growth, others inspire hope and some may offer nothing more than an unexpected but necessary lens through which to understand a situation.

Often, this process follows a regular formula: a person will go through a process of identification, as they realise that the text has some relevance to their own experience; followed by a sense of catharsis as the relationship between the literature and the reader develops into a meaningful exchange; and then insight. The reader walks away from their experience with some understanding they did not possess beforehard.

“All finite play is play against itself.”

James P Carse

To play to win is to play with the hope that the game will be completed (and that you will emerge victorious.

But our likelihood of winning finite games is dependant upon how adept we are at playing infinite ones.

There’s no point winning a game in such dramatic fashion that your competitors will be unable to play again.

It isn’t worth fighting so hard that you injure a valuable training partner in the same way it isn’t worth hoarding so much that your neighbour cannot afford to play games with or alongside you.

While some competition keeps games lively, competitiveness at its extreme is counterproductive to play.

Strive to play for the sake of play. And, if you must seek victory, do so with a humility, respect and honour which ensures your play, and the pay of others, will carry on.

Throughout the years there have been a number of brands who grew into international markets that their names were not suited to.

Before the Honda Jazz was called the Honda Jazz, it was called the Honda Fit. It was only after they launched it as the Honda Fitta into European markets that they realised that “fitta” translates to mean female genitalia in Swedish.

Another car, the Cherovlet Nova sold quite poorly in Latin America because “no va” reads “won’t go” in Spanish.

Coca-Cola, which at its invention meant little in English translates roughly to “bite the wax tadpole” in Chinese. It has since been transliterated into English as “ke kou ke le”, which means something more along the lines of “happiness in the mouth.” Far more appealing.

It goes to show that sometimes the things we build can sometimes grow beyond our own sensibilities.

The world is wide and we will only every be familiar with but a tiny portion.

Brands, however, possess the innate ability to be familiar almost everywhere.