Today is my birthday. Since coming into the world in Lexington, Kentucky on January 28, 1957, I have been blessed in many ways these past 56 years, from a wonderful family to great education, work that I love, creature comforts, friends, opportunities, travel, families of faith, chances to make a difference in the lives of others, and more than I have any right to expect or deserve. I am genuinely thankful.
Birthdays, anniversaries and New Years seem to have built-in mechanisms for reflection. What have the last 56 years brought? What was the past year like? What will the next year bring? What hopes and dreams do I have for the future? Allow me a few minutes of reflective indulgence.
It is impossible to begin to name all the people who have been significant in my life, so I dare not try beyond the obvious influence of parents, grandparents, sister, extended family, my wife of almost 34 years, and our sons. There are others, of course–many others who have helped shape my life and experiences into more than they would ever be without the presence and influence of significant others.
Even though I look a lot older than I feel, and an occasional car full of teenagers yells insults out their car window as they pass by me while I walk my dog, I am thankful to enjoy pretty good health. A few unwelcome creaks and issues arise from time to time, some of which are permanent, but not serious. I could do without the tinnitus which guarantees a constant high-pitched ringing in my ears every hour I’m awake. I’d rather my eye doctor not have me in as often as he does as a glaucoma suspect. All in all, though, I don’t have much to complain about in the health arena.
As I’ve recently written about, I love my work, so I have no complaints in that area, either. I’m coming up on my 10-year anniversary with my company in August, and as long as the company is still here and will have me, I don’t intend to go anywhere else until retirement. And speaking of retirement, I know a handful of people from my high school class of ’75 who have already retired. Congrats to them for being able to do so if that was their desire. Personally, I don’t expect that to happen until I’m much closer to 70–not because it wouldn’t be possible financially, but because I can’t imagine not working if I’m physically able to do so. I’ve said many times that I intend to live to be 100, so I may as well be productive for as much of that as possible.
Ultimately, I am most thankful to my God who brings meaning and hope, not just to this life, but for the one to come.
Could I find a few reasons to have a little pity party on my birthday? Perhaps. The day is booked to the gills with meetings. My to-do list is much longer than I’d like. Other things are taking place I’d like to be present for but can’t due to scheduling conflicts. I don’t know if there will be any time to just stop and enjoy any part of the day for the fun of it. However, there isn’t much point in echoing the old song of Leslie Gore, It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry If I Want To). No, I have too many reasons to be thankful, grateful, and to smile every day.
So a better refrain for me today will be “It’s my party, and I’ll smile if I want to.” Thanks again to all who enrich my life with friendship and meaning every day. You know who you are.