What do you get Batman for his Birthday?
Bruce Wayne and I have little in common. For a start, he is a billionaire playboy while I am broke and happily married! Nonetheless, I was thrilled when, during an interview for 'Spartan Up Podcast' last month, the founder of the Spartan race and real-life superhero Joe De-Sena compared me to the Dark Knight.
While I would like to believe that it was my rugged good looks and the fear I strike into the hearts of crime lords which led Joe to make the comparison, I suspect it was because I have a reputation for embracing a series of odd hobbies - knife throwing, wilderness survival, and parkour to name but a few.
So, when I laid my head down on my pillow last night as a 47 year old, and woke up to life as a 48 year old this morning, I found myself amused by the following thought experiment - what would you buy Batman for his birthday? After all, his alter ego has such vast sums of money at his disposal, that there is nothing he cannot buy or commission. His utility belt is already bulging at the seams and Alfred ensures he wants for nothing.
The answer to this conundrum came in the guise of a text message from 'Ironheart Studios', an innovative media and design company headed up by a good friend of mine. The name itself is uber cool - 'Ironheart' conjures for me images of armour-clad warriors battling the forces of darkness - perfect! When I clicked on the pulsing notification (the Bat Signal is so last century!) The message began as follows:
'Happy Hatching Day!’
This was followed by a sonorous audio rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and then this:
'I have donated to Water4.org on your behalf. So, 5 lives will apparently be transformed in celebration of you getting a year older. Boom!'
If you haven't come across the amazing work being done by Water4, please do click on the link and take a look; they are committed to one of the most important missions on earth right now and I will be releasing an interview with Justin Wren, a key figure in the organisation, in a few weeks time.
Anyway, as I read those words, I was flooded with a warm glow. Are there books, albums, toys and nicknacks that I would enjoy if they were gifted to me? Of course, but there is nothing I NEED, that I don't already have and there is something beautiful about this kind of donation by proxy. In the truest sense, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
As much by accident as design, I have been blessed with almost half a century of life as one of the most privileged humans to ever have walked on this planet. I was born into a time and place which meant that I had already won the lottery as I drew my first breath. I have been blessed with a good education, material comfort, I have normalised safety, security and the expectation that I can shape my own destiny. It is, for me, a moral imperative that I should use these advantages now to give back to the world, and to those who have not been as fortunate.
While I appreciate the birthday wishes, the cards and the incredulity of friends and family that I haven't yet removed myself from the gene pool though some half-baked venture, it seems to me that making a donation to charity, sponsoring an endangered animal, planting a tree or offering a micro-loan through organisations like Kiva is such a lovely way of celebrating being alive for another year on this spinning blue marble.
What do you get Batman for his birthday? You don't - you do something for Gotham instead.