Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birthday Bash for Boring Buddhist?

I need some suggestions from you, my friends.

You see, I have an embarrassing problem: I'm turning 40 in October.  I'm going to be, like, old.  Pretty soon, boy scouts will offer to help me to cross the street and people will give me senior citizen discounts without me even asking.  Ouch.

I would like your suggestion on how to mark this milestone in my life.  The easy solution would be a big birthday party of some sort.  But the problem is, I'm boring.  Like really boring.  I dislike parties, I dislike loud music, I dislike being in dancing crowds, and I dislike drinking alcohol.  Another easy solution for someone in my position would be to use that occasion to announce a major philanthropic gift, and have a group of people clapping and pretending to be interested (buffet provided, string quartet optional).  Yeah, I'm not THAT boring.

What to do?

What I'm hoping for is a way to have a "Birthday celebration with the Buddha".  I honestly have no idea what that means, but here are some features I'm wishing for:
  • Having a strong Buddhist theme (best if also involving Buddha Dharma).
  • Bringing meaningful and sustainable benefit to many people.
  • Involving one or more celebrities, such as the Dalai Lama or Natalie Portman.
  • Not boring.
Let me know if you have any ideas.

If not, that's fine too.  I'm happy to just blow a candle on a cake in the presence of my family and a cheap videocam, and then think about this problem again in 10 years.


  1. I turned 40 this year. I had similar thoughts about parties and gifts etc and was struck by TNH's comment that the greatest gift you can give someone is your presence. Therefore, I made a commitment with friends to spend quality time with them doing activities of their choosing; I'm having a great year so far!

  2. Hmm, between now and then, get friends (and celebrities) together to build a house for a family in need. (For a bigger philanthropic kick, you could also sponsor a bunch of additional houses, too.) Then, on your birthday, bake a big cake (with loads of intention and love) and help the family that moves in have a celebration.

    Also, a wise friend of mine in her mid-seventies tells me that the older you get, the longer you get to celebrate. So it's not a one-day deal, like when you're a little kid. She manages to make hers last close to a year. :)

  3. You know, Meng, I can honestly say that my 40's have been some of the best years of my life (and they're not quite done yet :). So I suggest, for this birthday, think about how you'd like to kick off your best decade yet. I'm sure you can stave off the AARP for at least another 10 years!

  4. Here are my thoughts - a couple of questions first: 1. Who is your targeted audience, outside of friends and family, who are “the others” you want to introduce the Buddha to? It's challenging to find a common denominator, but something to think about.

    2. What “part” of the Buddha do you want to introduce? – there’s so much and depending on question #1 it could help limit the “what.”
    3. What is meaning, sustainable and fun look like for you? – It’s a personal event and I think it’s great to celebrate the event with others, but since it is your birthday the event is partially for you, even if it’s not for you. Also, to make the one day or multiple day event, a springboard for something more meaningful, to help make longer change, how can it be more than just one day?

    So those are the broader theme questions that are top of mind. I know for my wife and me when we planned our wedding, we wanted to make it more than us. It was very hard to do and hopefully we were successful. Most of the comments we received were that they noticed the details and how things were well-thought out. So for your “event” I would make a list of things that are important to you and how they are important. From that list and process, you can start to think do you enjoy activities in the day/night/morning. The reason I suggest this is that by starting with the parameters, you can start to focus on the process and how you want people to leave the event. It’s the experience.

    Good luck and if you want to brainstorm, please let me know.

  5. When anyone gives you grief about how old you are, do what my dad always did. Look them straight in the eye and say, "I've made it this far, and you haven't."

  6. You must have tons of people that love you for who you are... and I bet ALL of them want to have a day to celebrate YOU... to make sure you know you are loved (probably you know that... you seem to be sooooo happy and only super loved people are soooo happy).... let the world love you! celebrate life... all your accomplishments. invite Celine Dior and sing outload! and REJOICE at your good fortune. DEDICATE the merits of each second of joy... and visualize the whole universe, all sentient beings in it, united, in a super joyful party celebrating universal enlightenment! All is possible….
    If you had a party i would definitely send you a card!