I’ve always enjoyed having a birthday that falls between Christmas and New Year’s. Three reasons why:
No. 1: I seem to always have the day off.
No. 2: In the long run-up to the major holidays, my special day has always seemed like something of a respite. If it gets overlooked, no big deal.
No. 3: The weather is usually cold and wet. If I’m driven to stay indoors, that’s not a bad thing. I can always read a book and/or get warm by the fireplace.
This year, I was off again from work. The weather was cool and dry. And while I enjoyed kicking back yesterday morning — with a book and a swim — there was no way my birthday was going to be overlooked.
Lori took me out to dinner and presented me with a pile of small gifts afterward, ranging from sushi-themed socks to a new runner’s watch. And thanks to assorted texts, voice mails, social media posts and other well wishes sent from near and far, I’m feeling the warm fuzzies that come from knowing so many fine people in addition to my extended family.
Now that I’ve reached, um, the big Sesenta y Seis (that would be LXVI in Super Bowl years), I suppose that I ought to have something halfway profound to say. You know, something along the lines of facing life’s challenges — or looking back on this or that path not taken.
But the truth is, I feel quite content and even a little guilty.
I’m happily married to my college sweetheart, 43 years and counting. We share a lovely home with our dog and cat in a cool neighborhood in a great, if imperfect, city.
I’ve got three wonderful children, three wonderful daughters-in-law, and one wonderful granddaughter. And though only two of our kids live here in Portland, we’re making plans to visit the third in upstate New York early next year.
I’m healthy and reasonably fit, though I know could (and resolve to) work out more regularly.
I’m enjoying a second career, having transitioned from the newsroom to the college classroom three years ago.
In short, I have nothing to complain about and much to be thankful for.
Funny thing, the book that I’m reading now centers on a larger-than-life character who couldn’t be more different than me. In his memoir, the guy holds back nothing about his thieving, drug-addled, promiscuous past, starting with a failed attempt at college, working alongside a swashbuckling group of heavily tatted, hard-drinking cronies, and rising, then crashing and burning, in his chosen profession.
As I’m reading this, I’m thinking “What a life!” From a publisher’s standpoint, how great to have such a talented writer so willing to share tales of wretched excess in a compelling narrative that surely culminates in redemption. From a reader’s perspective, how enthralling to experience the “bad boy” lifestyle through the lens of the one who’s actually lived it.
And from my point of view, how very different my own life has been.
Honestly, I’m one of those guys who largely stays within the lines. I’m not a big risk-taker. Hence, no broken bones (ever), no arrests, no sordid tales from college days or travels abroad. No teenage pranks, no school suspensions, no elaborate pranks. No tattoos, no piercings. Heck, I even drive the speed limit.
No best-selling memoir for me.
But, you know, I’m pretty happy all things considered. I know there are an awful lot of people out there dealing with all manner of stresses, whether it’s work, family, finances, relationships or retirement. Depression, anxiety and worries about physical health are widespread.
I’m fortunate — blessed, really — to be in this situation and I don’t take it lightly. Having just completed another trip around the sun, I look forward to another Year of Not Living Dangerously, with appreciation for all those people I love and all the things I enjoy.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll enjoy this soothing song that’s one of my favorites. It happened to come up on YouTube as I was composing this post.