The Cosmic Joke That Never Ends

Nick Gertsch Birthday


Hi. My name is Nick and I was born in late February 1988. Today, I’m turning 7.

Wait, hold up. Wha…?

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’m 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.


Nick Gertsch Birthday


See, I’ve never really gotten birthdays. Or, more correctly put, I’ve never really understood the concept of celebrating the anniversary of the day one was born. I mean, if you’re not dead already, it’s 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’ll 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’t match exactly what it’s 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’s enough for us to require shoving an extra day into the year so that time can catch up and we can regain synchronicity.


Nick Gertsch Birthday


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’t it? That’s pretty interesting and metaphysical and stuff. That’s worth thinking about. Perhaps it’s 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’m 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’ve 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 Birthday


Nick Gertsch is a copywriter currently searching for the answers in Cape Town, South Africa. @nickgertsch


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