Hi. My name is Nick and I was born in late February 1988. Today, I‚Äôm turning 7.
Wait, hold up. Wha‚Ä¶?
Well, by late February what I mean is, 29 February…Yes, of all of the days that nature could have¬†chosen to bring me sputtering into this world, it chose the one that only exists once every 1¬†461¬†days. ¬Ø\_(„ÉÑ)_/¬Ø I‚Äôm a leapling. Go figure. Now I know what you‚Äôre gonna ask and no, other than¬†being able to claim that opening statement, it isn‚Äôt blatantly weird.
But then again, maybe it is.
I mean, practically speaking, I‚Äôm a 28-year-old human. This is perfectly evident in my ID book. I have¬†unequivocally lived for 28 years. It just so happens to be however, that the day I was born only exists¬†once every four years. And that, rather than the fact that it happens to be my birthday, is pretty¬†strange.
See, I‚Äôve never really gotten birthdays. Or, more correctly put, I‚Äôve never really understood the¬†concept of celebrating the anniversary of the day one was born. I mean, if you‚Äôre not dead already,¬†it‚Äôs a given: to merely exist is the minimum requirement needed to qualify for a birthday celebration.¬†Is this really all we demand of each other? Really?
So, back to the weirdness of leap year day. The details about exactly how and why we have a leap¬†year are actually pretty complex. Just type leap year into Youtube and you‚Äôll get the idea, but the gist¬†of it is that our calendar, which, if you think about it, is just a structure that organises our days,¬†months and years, is just that, a structure. It doesn‚Äôt match exactly what it‚Äôs measuring. Each time¬†the earth rotates around the sun, it falls ever so slightly out of sync with our calendar. Specifically, a¬†complete orbit around the sun takes slightly longer than 365 days (5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46¬†seconds longer, to be exact). Over the course of 4 years, that‚Äôs enough for us to require shoving an¬†extra day into the year so that time can catch up and we can regain synchronicity.
So February 29 is a catch-up day; the day our calendar pauses for a moment to get back in touch¬†with reality, or time, or, like, the universe or something. I mean, that itself is worth celebrating isn‚Äôt¬†it? That‚Äôs pretty interesting and metaphysical and stuff. That‚Äôs worth thinking about. Perhaps it‚Äôs a¬†reminder that as we chug along with the comings and goings of our daily lives, bigger, more real¬†things are going on around us.
Given all of this, and the fact that I‚Äôm not really a fan of birthdays, I think, henceforth, I will forgo¬†celebrating my birthday and begin celebrating Leap Day: the day to remember that we are, in fact, at¬†the whims of the universe. And maybe even that a lot of what we take for granted are structures¬†we‚Äôve imposed to more easily manage the way we experience things, and which more often than not¬†ignore reality for the sake of ease.
Or maybe, probably, this big old cosmic joke is on me.
Nick Gertsch is a copywriter currently searching for the answers in Cape Town, South Africa. @nickgertsch