Maturity, such as I’ve acquired it, has taught me that babies are a wonderful thing.
I’ve learned to appreciate that every newborn baby represents a different individual journey.
Every child gets to travel a new and separate road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. They will have their own discoveries and reckonings, their own ups and downs, in times and places they will always remember.
Each newborn represents part of a new generational promise, as well.
Those of us who have been around the track a couple of times can always hope that the next generation will figure out how to beat war, or cancer, or racism … or at very least can figure out how to get in and out of the Registry of Motor Vehicles in 15 minutes or less. Hope springs eternal.
So, for Emily and Anna and Isla and Milo and Maddy and Theo and all the rest, the passed-along news of each blessed event brings a mental toast, a burst of good wishes and a ray of hope.
It is both sobering and heartening to realize — as I never really did, before I sat down to write this — that that was me, once.
Looking at myself on the eve of my 39th birthday, I see gray hairs and shaving cuts and tired eyes, and mediocrity and compromise and disappointment, and a thorough failure to live up to whatever potential I might have had.
See the explosion on the calendar entry? It’s been a long time since Kurt William inspired this kind of excitement in any setting — least of all within himself.
My generation hasn’t made any particular progress on war, cancer or racism, either, though we’re pretty good at lobbing digital birds into digital walls that land on digital pigs.
(Not that I had anything to do with that, even. I’m just your average corporate salaryman, collecting furrows in my brow over tasks that will be forgotten in a year, and already anticipating that I will be obsolete at 50 or so.)
I am recharged, though, to see the bolts of energy radiating from my grandfather’s exclamation of “It’s a boy!”
There’s still hope for you, kid, it tells me. You’ve got time yet. Those positive wishes we all had for you didn’t just vanish into thin air. You carry them with you. Reclaim them. See where they take you. Reach out your hand, if your cup be empty.
I think it is good for us, in our birthday reflections, to remember the promise of those initial hours when everyone wished for us the happy, safe, fruitful future they had never quite figured out for themselves.
That future may not have been achieved. But it is not lost until we give up on it, either.
Hope doesn’t have to be just for newborns.
Come back in two days for a better, less self-obsessed birthday-related post. Oh, wait, I didn’t say “please.” Please come back in two days for a better, less self-obsessed birthday-related post.