History, time and my birthday

In 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected, surrounding capitalistic West Berlin and separating it from its communist, Eastern counterpart. For 28 years the Berlin Wall stood, separating West from East and causing much suffering on both sides. Then, on Nov. 9, 1989, the policy changed. People were allowed to cross the wall, precipitating the imminent fall of the barrier itself.

This was an incredibly momentous occasion in modern history. The fall of the Berlin Wall can be seen as the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. Where once there were two superpowers, there was now only one. A new world order took hold — a world order that has survived, for the most part, to the present day.

Despite the importance of the fall of the Berlin Wall, to me it will always be overshadowed by an even more world-changing event. Nov. 9, 1989, was also the day of my birth. While oppressed people were tearing apart the Iron Curtain, I was first introduced to the planet Earth.

I have often wondered about time in relation to my birthday. History goes back thousands of years, but how can I be sure any of it actually existed? As far as I can really know, all of creation sprang forth the moment I opened my infant eyes for the very first time.

According to this theory, my older brother was never born, but just came out of nowhere as a fully formed 4-year-old. The same goes for my parents and the country. Theoretically this means the entire planet, and even the Universe itself is only 23 years old. The Soviet Union fell in 1989, but to me it was never really there in the first place. When time started, the Wall was already coming down.

Of course, it is tough to actually believe this. A person would have to be incredibly selfish to really think they are the focal point of the universe; a Big Bang in and of themselves. If there is any day when we are allowed to be selfish, though, it is on our birthday.

Birthdays are like personal holidays. They are very important to a single individual, but don’t really matter to anyone else. Sort of like how Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year for many, but doesn’t really matter to Jewish people. Or how Thanksgiving, which most Americans couldn’t think of passing by without celebrating, has zero meaning to people of other nationalities.

Celebrating a birthday means yet another year has gone by. It gives us the chance to reflect on our lives, to see where we’ve been and get a glimpse of where we are going. The world has changed and developed a lot in the 23 years since the fall of the Soviet Union. I wonder if I have too.

It is difficult to track our own growth, as everyone is limited to the perspective their own eyes can provide. However, I do have at least one piece of evidence that I am indeed growing up. For the last two years I have received clothes for my birthday, and for the last two years I was actually excited about it.