Happy Birthday to You!

Birthday Cake

The best days can be perfectly ordinary, and I guess yesterday was one of them. I am now 24 years old and didn’t do anything especially remarkable to celebrate. I’m not going out dancing or drinking—partly because I’m here with my dad and don’t feel like going alone, and also because we’re going to wake up early tomorrow to visit the city of Toledo. Not that I didn’t have a great time today: I went to marvel at Picasso’s Guernica. I took in the heady aroma of gourmet Spanish food at Mercado San Miguel. I even bought a few shirts to replace my increasingly ragged ones, and to cap it all off my dad bought a new camera to replace the beat up point-and-shoot I’ve been using since I began this blog (you may have noticed an odd medley of black spots in my photos—they shall be no more)!

Our apartment is a little to the south of Sol, in a neighborhood brimming with Indian and Senegalese markets, restaurants, and barbershops. I wanted to enjoy the local scene, so for dinner we found a great Indian place just around the corner. You might argue that today was a relatively uneventful day, especially compared to some of the experiences I have had on my journey thus far. I didn’t walk for 20 miles on an almost empty stomach. I didn’t stand at the edge of the raging sea and feel very, very small. I didn’t meet a beautiful woman in Paris and kiss her in the rain (that last one will take some time to get over).

Through the fields  at sunrise

Five months ago, on a sunny day in the heart of France, I was having a picnic with some friends on the Camino when I had a euphoric epiphany: to find happiness here and now, not shrouded in the fog of the past nor obscured by the mystery of the future. The beauty—and I suppose, curse—of traveling is that even a milestone as big as a birthday can become just another day; the idea of living in the moment can be looked at in reverse. Monday is as exciting to me as Saturday. A day spent sitting on a train for 12 hours is as fulfilling as a day spent exploring a new city. Days that are supposed to be especially unique lose their exotic sheen, but only because the day preceding and the day after are equally—yet differently—important. Each day offers something new to us, and every day the sun rises and we wake up is a day that we have been born once again into the world, to enjoy what it offers us and give back in return. And before I forget: happy birthday, to you!

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10 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to You!

  1. Happy Birthday Nathan. Sounds like you are having an incredible experience. When are you going to Israel? We miss you in San Diego.

  2. Happy Birthday Nathan! Thank you for sharing your journey. I have enjoyed reading about your experiences and discussing them with my 15 year old son. Your father must be very proud!

    1. Hey Austin, I hope my travels have encouraged your son to start thinking about some places in the world that he would like to see. It really opens the mind more than a formal education ever possibly can. As for my dad, I would say that he’s proud of me and also hoping that I start settling down at some point. And I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that yet 🙂

  3. ‘wherever you go…that’s where you’re at” is a settled as it gets for me when I’m fortunate enough to be in the kind of groove you appear to be enjoying. Ride the wave as long as you can my brother! I’m trying to open my son’s eyes to life’s possibilities and am grateful for the help your blog is providing.

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