I recently turned 46. I know many people celebrate their birthday
with cake and presents. I celebrated mine with introspection and
careful consideration of human mortality. For me, November 6th was a morbid and
dark affair; well maybe not as dramatic as all that but I did pause and think.
It is a product of my age, this year’s birthday ceremony. I am old enough to
feel the slight pain of a history of physical effort and realization
that relief from this reminder will only end when I end. I have seen
three classmates pass this year and realize the Grim Reaper is
indiscriminate and careless. I also know that whatever mark I wish to
leave on this earth should be made sometime soon. I remind myself, at
times, of the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” whose
wife named him “Dr Death” based on his chosen topic of conversation
during his fortieth birthday.
The death of Andy Rooney really struck me this week. I didn’t always
like Rooney’s little rants on television’s “60 Minutes” but I liked
him. He admitted to being vindictive but found that “getting
even” with a tormentor felt much better than being the tormentor’s
victim. I’ve always felt the same way; I’d rather turn the other
guy’s cheek than turn my own. Anyway, Rooney was 92 but I felt a
special kinship with the man and his death only added weight to
the scales I see as the justice by which I judge my own life. I’ve indulged myself
in a bit or morose navel gazing now and I’m done for this birthday season.
Lisa made me cake for my birthday on Sunday. Chocolate cake with cayenne pepper added
to the mix; it was fantastic. It was also a reminder that my wife is
a lovely stream of happiness in my life. She wanted to know my wish for a birthday gift; I have enough and wish for no more. I did ask for one of those sweet cards she finds for me on these occasions and she did not fail to please. Lisa is the sugar in my unvarnished and truthful cup of coffee view of life. Lisa also made my favorite meal on Sunday before sending me off to work with some of the best people I know.
I write these columns for others to read, however I also write them for me. I discover much about myself in the process of writing a column. Today I discovered that life is not the simple addition of one year to another as we grow old; it is the sum total of love, friends, winning and losing
that create personal revelations to shine light upon life. To gauge one’s life based upon what model year is your body is simple, unenlightened and childish. To gauge it by the joy and the love you trade with others seems a much better decision. It is what I choose-happy birthday to me.