Today is my birthday and I am glad to say I am 59 years old. The executive staff gave me a morning party with biscuits and gravy and students sang happy birthday to me in chapel, both firsts. It was nice. While I respect the right of folks who prefer to keep their age secret it really doesn’t matter much to me. It is good to be a year older though the wiser part is always up for grabs. My generation, more than any other, seems to mark every milestone as if we are the only ones to ever reach it. Fifty nine is kind of nondescript. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I hit 60. When I was younger, and I really don’t feel that much older, sixty was old, very old. These days it is considered “middle age.” Of course, not that many people live to be 120. It would make me feel good if people thought me to be younger than I am, but again, it is not something I obsess about.
Birthdays do provide an opportunity for reflection, as well they should and I heard a couple of speakers this week that made me think about a couple of things as it relates to my own journey. The first was a speaker who brought up the idea of gratitude in an address to our faculty. It was in the context of noting that students rarely express thanks to a faculty member until years after that teacher has impacted them, if ever. It’s true. If teachers depended on that for their self affirmation, they would be in trouble. Most of us do a lousy job of expressing gratitude, and I am first in that line. Two things come to mind about that. The first is I need to do a better job of showing appreciation to those who have helped me along the way. The second, and almost paradoxically, is that individually I need to find satisfaction in a job well done and not in what I think someone thinks about me. The short of it is that most people don’t think about me!
The second speaker was in chapel. He gave a great testimony but in the end admitted he still had questions even though he accepted much based on faith. I thought at 59 years old I would have more answers and fewer questions but it hasn’t necessarily worked out that way. I find myself reading more books about all kinds of things about which I am intensely curious. I just wish I could remember more of what I read!
Birthdays are reasons to celebrate and we need times to get out of our routine. I am glad I have had 59 and hope to have a lot more.