Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Constitutes a Good Birthday Is What Constitutes a Good Life


This past week was a week of celebrations. I had another birthday go by quietly. I like to reflect in private on my birthday and not have a lot of hoo-hah so I keep a low profile and don’t publicize the date. I also celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary. Ron and I slipped off to the Coast for a romantic evening at an inn by the ocean, just the two of us. We could hear the ocean from our room. And also this past week was the 21st anniversary of our move from Berkeley to Mendocino County. Lots of milestones.

I had a wonderful birthday and I ask myself, why? What constitutes a good birthday? My husband Ron gave me flowers. I spoke with all of my children. Sudi came home for a visit and he and Ron took me out to eat delicious Thai food for dinner; Yael and Akili both called to wish me a happy day. Akili and Tina were about to leave for their first day at their respective new jobs and they were both so excited about the possibilities. My father called on his cell phone at the dinner table where he was surrounded by friends and he held the cell phone up and all of them sang happy birthday to me. So sweet. My friend Rajni, who lives half a world away from me but shares my birth date emailed me and I emailed her with greetings and a few notes about our day and our lives. My longstanding pal Linda called to fill me in on her recent trip North to visit her family. She caught salmon while fishing with her brother and she announced that her niece is expecting a baby. My brother, niece, and nephews filmed a silly and wonderful football-themed video and emailed it to me to give me a laugh.

I realize I have merely cataloged a collection of birthday greetings. Mundane. Perhaps boring. But those inconsequential greetings and communications, all put together, are what constitutes a good birthday. And they are what constitutes a good life. Family and friends. Getting on with their lives, thriving, sharing a moment of delight with me briefly on my birthday, on any day. So glad to be alive together in this time, however short it may be in the grand scheme. I am grateful for the friendship, good food, music, laughter. An exceptional slice of cheesecake. A funny video. A kiss. A flower. A story. A connection across distance. A memory made or in the making.

I live in a place of beauty yet untouched by the iron horror of war or the astonishing devastation of natural disaster. I am grateful for the gift of an ordinary day and the simple web of relationship with those I love.

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