As a young man, in my teens and early twenties, on my birthday, unavoidably and inexplicably, I would cry. Almost as a purgation, a cleansing ritual. It felt that with each year that passed, I became more acutely aware of the mounting pressure of high standards and big expectations. You see, I’ve never gotten all that caught up in age. But at the same time, I’ve always been well aware of the finite nature of our days. I’ve always had big plans, and it often felt like I could hear the clock ticking off in the distance. As I’ve grown, however, I’ve instead began to look at birthdays as survival milestones. Yearly landmarks upon which to pause, and examine my life. Mile markers on my journey, to show me how far I’ve come. A chance to breathe, and reflect on the many ways I am infinitely blessed. Making sense of the struggle and strain we must inevitably overcome to grow stronger. Witnessing pain and hardship, and promising lives cut short. And it is in this clarity, that I am able to find true joy in the passing of time. Watching my daughters develop, smarter and more beautiful by the day. Guiding them, and helping them to form their personalities and world view, molding them into the powerful forces for good they will become. But not hurrying them, letting them take their time, and lingering in the innocence of today. Loving more deeply my woman, and my family, watching our bonds grow stronger as we face and conquer challenges united. Looking forward to glorious days together, marked by new experiences and a hopeful future. It is at these times, too, that I look back. And reminisce on those no longer with us in physical form—an obvious reminder of our own mortality, and the need to live each day with vigor and passion, for our moments here are few and fleeting, slipping away as you read these words. It is to those dearly departed that I owe a great debt, one that I pay the interest toward every day that I endeavor to be better, to do more, and to never compromise as I inch ever-closer to my dreams. They can no longer do it, so I must. And in this way, their spirit lives on. As the yearly anniversary marking the day of my birth arrives, I am again flooded with wonderful and mixed emotions. Fighting back tears, I am grateful for the countless ways I am so very fortunate. Nostalgic for simple times, old friends and tiny joys passed. And hungrier than ever–my soul set ablaze to make the vivid visions in my mind a reality. Within me rages a burning desire for conquest, opening doors to boundless prosperity. But that fire is always tempered by the understanding of how rich I already am, just in being lucky enough to survive.
written by G.D.