Birth certificates have become a strange source of reflection for me.
Apart from some faded photos and home videos, visual poof of our infancy, no person on earth has any recollection of those early years.
Instead, the beginnings of our lives are embedded not only in the memory palaces of our mothers; they’re scrawled onto a scrap of discoloured government document too.
With the flick of the midwife’s pen, our names and parental heritage are sealed forever in a semblance of numbers, a deliberate and purposeful combination to our parents, but a jumbled rubix cube of letters to a strangers eye.
Our names spell out our identities as if they were static things that can be contained within the lines they’re sitting on, when they’re anything but.
Certificates in their most rudimentary sense are supposed to recognise an achievement. So with that in mind, a birth certificate essentially says: “Congratulations on being born.”
The irony is no one ever chooses to be born.
We don’t choose our parents, our socioeconomic status, or our “foreign” sounding names which come bound to our ethnic heritage.
Rather they choose us, or if you’re of a religious disposition, God does. He enunciated that holy word “be” and that was that. We come into the world kicking and screaming out of our mother’s wombs without any choice in the matter whatsoever.
A bit of a hard bargain for those who question why they were born into difficult circumstances.
Although I’m the owner of my birth certificate, rather than feeling like that scrap of paper belongs to me, I belong to it.
The moment I die, it will be joined by its mate, a matching pair to state the exact date and time of my death. That’s a morbid thought for anyone, but especially for someone my age who is often under the illusion that there’s no expiration date to life. If anything, this certificate is a reminder that, like the Lana Del Rey song goes: “We were born to die”.
There are 7 billion human souls clambering to survive in this wild world. When you’re just one microscopic speck amongst the masses, being born doesn’t really seem worth congratulating when it appears to be so easy (although I’m sure our mothers who gave birth to us, Titans in their own right would disagree with that.) The hard part is living, and deciding what to do with the life you’ve been given.
If you figure that out, that if anything deserves the biggest congratulations of all.