I used to hate my birthday, and I can’t tell you why but with the advent of social media I love my birthday now.
I love hearing from people that I typically only watch from afar throughout the rest of the year, pausing to give the occasional “like” or encouraging word to let them know that I am there (so I don’t feel creepy). Sometimes hitting the “Like” button for me is like the gratuitous throat clearing when you have come up behind someone doing something they didn’t intend for anyone to see, or something that was meant for someone else.
Seems like a lot of people on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc… occasionally forget that everyone can see and read their posts. Sometimes I think it’s the equivalent of a person sitting in their car at a red light picking their nose; they know they’re in public but they just don’t care.
I love my birthday because it’s a day when some people that don’t get mushy any other time of the year will take the time to tell me that I mattered to them at some point, and in some way. I love when my kids call me and say, “Who is so and so…” after reading a post about some training I might have offered, or some advice I might have given, or a time when I was just able to be there for someone. What greater legacy could I leave my kids than a dad who tried to make his world a little better, one relationship at a time?
I received several of those mushy messages this year, and there were some tear-jerkers.
I am proud of the fact that my wife and I are occasionally able to make a small difference in the lives of the people we come in contact with. We’re not superstars, but we do love people and that seems to make us exceptional, which isn’t as great as it sounds because caring about others should be the rule not the exception.
I figured out early on that I had my choice of epitaphs, “Helluva car salesman”, “Couldn’t sing a lick”, or “Cared about people”. I didn’t come by this particular value of “caring” on my own, and I definitely wasn’t born with it (I don’t think many of us are).
I was adopted into a big family that was itself pretty well thrown together, but man did those people love each other. And they loved me, even though I was a jerky little kid with a smart mouth and 0-sense of propriety, discipline, or self-control. Being adopted I was given a name different than the one I was born with, but I was never treated as anything less than a Simpson. I really do feel like I owe it to my parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles etc… to honor the name that I was given, and I believe that means doing everything in my power to insure that when people hear that name it means something positive to them.
Every time my phone beeped on my birthday with people taking the time to reach out and let me know they were thinking of me, every time I read a message from a friend or acquaintance, I thought about the massive amounts of kindness and grace I’ve been shown in this life, and how thankful I am for the people who have loved me in spite of all the reasons they might have had not to.
As Jan and I sat at dinner that night, reflecting on the day, Jan made the statement that it was a “best day”. I believe that our best days are definitely the ones where we are reminded to be grateful. If my 10/10s going forward are like this one, I think the days of loathing my birthday are behind me.