“In order to taste fully the joys of life, one must have suffered as well” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Patrick Zielinski by © Mélissa Pelchat

“Enlightened, wise, selfless, generous… Those are just a few of the qualities I have discovered in Patrick in the short time we spent together walking through Parc Lafontaine, sharing reflections about life, ourselves, others, travels, discoveries, spirituality, truly enjoying the moment, the beauty within everything simple and other things I forget in the happiness of the memory of meeting someone so young yet so at peace and with his horizons wide open. Cheers to you, Patrick, and here’s to everything the world has to offer you and what you have to offer it. Happy birthday!” – Mélissa P

Image  © Mélissa Pelchat

An Interview with Patrick

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. I think I was eleven. My parents had average income, but that year they ordered a lot of food for me and my friends. There’s a bit of pressure when you are hosting your birthday party. Even at that age, deep down, you want your birthday to be better than your friends, haha! That day ended up being very average. That’s precisely why it was my favorite, I remember feeling grateful for the food that was on the table and the friends I could share it with, nothing beats that feeling.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. At age seventeen, I had moved schools quite frequently so I had less friends, my outlook on life had also become bleak. My birthday was then filled with a mix of bad feelings among grown-ups I didn’t want to celebrate with.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. My uncle bought me a round-trip ticket to fly from Montreal to Vancouver. He was someone I looked up to when I was in my teens so I was excited I could spend some time with him as well as visit a new city. We usually don’t give expensive gifts in our family so I had no idea how to accept it, haha! I was speechless.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I am a huge fan of polish soups. The ones I particularly enjoy are Borscht and Rosól. When it comes to main dishes, I gotta have Golabki’s and Bigos which are also polish dishes. As for the desert, my dad makes a killer sloppy Tiramisu, can’t go wrong with that.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. I believe that gratitude for the food, the people and the present moment is an act that brings the most joy to me.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. Sometimes we sing the “Sto lat” song. It’s a traditional Polish song that is sung to express good wishes, good health and long life to a person.