It has its obvious drawbacks. It’s near impossible to throw a birthday party. You did indeed get the short end on gifts and the stiff reality that comes on December 26th when you wake up realizing it will be another 364 days until you open another present.
On the other hand, everyone seems to remember your birthday. On a day when most have a reason to be preoccupied with their own happiness, they take a few moments to share some of it with you. Your family makes you feel special beyond belief. When older, even your children stop to say “happy birthday” before scampering out to see what Santa has left.
I imagine the yin and yang of my birthday is no different for anyone else as they mark another year.
On one hand, aging can feel like a series of losses. You just can’t do a lot of things you used to do when you were younger. Sadly, you inevitably lose friends and relatives to illness. Unfortunately, you lose faith, confidence or, heaven forbid, hope as life wears on you.
On the other hand, each year that passes adds to your collection of great little moments and life-altering experiences. You have made a difference one way or another in the lives of those around you. Your legacy grows in the hearts of your children, partner, family, students, friends, and anyone with whom your actions or words come into contact.
So it struck me, how one sided it felt when flipping through the New York Times “Year in Pictures” today. Most photos were filled with tension, conflict and tragedy. There were scant few photos that offered any of the wonder of our world and the amazing feats and spirit of those who everyday wake up and make something of themselves or do something good for others. It was as if there was no good to be found in 2016.
I am well aware of how relatively blessed I am and how much suffering people endure. Yet still I wonder if we underestimate and underrepresent the goodness in this world.
As this holiday season unfolds and we think about another year that passes for all of us, I’m reminded of the words of Anne Frank who obviously knew more about suffering than most of us can imagine.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this today. I hope you find plenty of beauty around you this holiday season. I know I did.