Wednesday, October 4, 2017

50 for 50 day 28: Some thoughts about birthdays, the world, and love

This is the 28th of 50 posts celebrating and reflecting upon my 50th birthday. You can read the entire series here.

It has become something of a Facebook tradition to announce the celebration of a birthday month. I really want to do that, but this month isn't off to an auspicious start. Mass shootings, Tom Petty, Puerto Rico (and Houston and many Caribbean islands and Mexico and...) still in shambles, the US refusing to support a UN measure condemning the death penalty for LGBT people (with a history of never voting to condemn the death penalty for anything, anywhere), the Equifax and Yahoo hacks, millions of US children imperiled by a politicized system that favors party over people, the pissing contest with North Korea, and more. It seems like the height of selfishness and more than a little tone deaf to cry out Me! Me me me MEEE!!! 

Of course, I want to. I want to be boisterous and celebratory and selfish, claiming the month as my own. This year it just doesn't feel right. Of course, adding to the misery and noise isn't really useful either, as I commented yesterday, so I go on.

Birthdays are funny things. When I was little my favorite holiday was, without a doubt, Halloween. Were I pressed I would have admitted it's because I'm almost a Halloween baby and I could parlay that into spooking my classmates. Plus the candy. As I grew older I developed a philosophy that birthdays matter; we all deserve at least one day out of the year that celebrates our very existence. That belief held firm until Kevin died (if you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at any of these posts from 2014 on). For awhile it felt as though birthdays didn't really matter since they only led to loss. It isn't in my nature to be endlessly bleak, so that too has shifted. Birthdays no longer need as much hoopla - I don't expect a party or gifts this year or any year - but they mean more. They are a reminder that our time here is so brief and so precious.

As I near 50 I find myself wanting mostly to love and be loved. Sure, I want to be reminded that my place in the world isn't wasted, but what I'm really hungry for, amidst the noise and smoke and distraction, is connection.

Know this, dear reader. You are loved. Your place in the world matters. It matters to me, whether or not we have met, as I'm sure it matters to others. You are but a flicker in the time of the universe and you are precious for that very reason. If we all knew how precious we are and yet how insignificant (regardless of office, wealth or fame) perhaps we would all be a little kinder.

Here is what I want for my birthday. Love and be loved. Be a little bit kinder. Let me know what you did and what happened.

This is what 50 looks like. As kind as I can.

(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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