Sept. 20, 2013: Reflecting on special birthdays — and measuring our lives, by Patrick Sieben

September 20, 2013 by

WEB-070210PatrickSiebenMugEvery weekday morning when Toby Nosker announces birthdays on “Concordia Radio KNCK 1390,” he closes the segment with the proclamation, “Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live!”

As I hear that, I may reminisce about the significance of some of the more important birthday and the ramifications of each, because not all birthdays are celebrated equally. Submitted for consideration from my own life experience:

10. The first with two digits. The first ending in zero. Growing up in my Irish family, being 10 meant one was finally old enough to begin a love affair — or maybe an addiction to — coffee.

11. Finally old enough to be a Boy Scout. (Not that being a Cub Scout was a bad thing, but the blue uniform just wasn’t cool.)

16. Arguably, the BIG one. After what seemed like an eternal wait, eligibility for a driver’s license. (And car dates and road trips with friends and cruising Florida Avenue, not to mention a slimmer billfold due to insurance, gasoline, etc.)

18. Adulthood! (And all the cool things that came with it like the right to vote and responsibility if I broke the law and Selective Service registration.)

21. Real adulthood. Being one who desired a starting position on my high school football coach’s “good” list, I remained drug and alcohol free throughout my youth, but was many times the designated driver for friends who often exclaimed the next morning, “I did what!?” (I was lucky to learn from the mistakes of others.)

The common thread for all these birthdays was the wait. We enjoy the same kind of anticipation when we are looking forward to a visit from a favorite relative or Christmas morning or the Super Bowl. When the big day arrives, happiness abounds.

There’s not so much anticipation for the next couple of decades. Instead, we plod along year after year only quietly marking birthdays — until, suddenly, we realize there’s a slew of impending milestones.

50. We start receiving invitations to join AARP.

55. We become eligible to order from the senior menu.

65. We enter the realm of Social Security. And so on.

Those of us who have already received our invitation from AARP may begin concerning ourselves with our impending decline and eventual demise. But we would do better to look at our age — or what I prefer to call life experience — and see how we have touched the world for the better.

This does not necessarily mean that we became wealthy or famous. Rather, it means that we have raised children to become good citizens. We have helped others through our professions and our contributions to society. We have enjoyed our lives as God has intended.

If I look at my life with these measurements in mind, peacefulness awaits.

So, the next time you hear Toby’s saying about “The more you have, the longer you live,” remember another little pearl of wisdom: Life is like a roll of toilet paper — the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!

So guard it. But don’t take it too seriously because we all know that angels can fly only because they take themselves lightly. Be peaceful, my friends, and… happy birthday!

— Patrick Sieben is the Director of Bands at Cloud County Community College and a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.




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