Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Aujourd'hui c'est mon anniversaire

I am 42 today.

It's not a milestone birthday in the traditonal sense.

I had one of the those two years ago when Missy and I gathered at Fuji in Portland, Maine for some terrific food and even better company.

Today, more than then, I can better appreciate the passage of time.

If my life trajectory is like my father's, I have now lived two-thirds of my life. It's a somewhat sobering thought, I'll admit, but I'm hoping for an outcome similar to the previous generation of Begins who lived into their eighties and nineties.

With the start of a new decade, however, there is time for reflection - and some celebration.

For starters, I survived the polyester and outrageous plaids of the 1970s and the big hair and acid-washed look of the 1980s. Yet, sadly, while I could once rock the big hair/mullet combo of the times, I now see a much more modest hairstyle when I look in the mirror.

I grew up in a small house in Winslow, Maine with five siblings - three of them older sisters - and, decades later, they still love me and I them.

I've held the hands of loved ones as they've drawn their last breath and watched in wonder the birth of my three children.

For the past 20 years, I have been loved by a woman who has stood by me during the most challenging of times and has helped me laugh often.

During my lifetime, I've lived in a country on the edge of nuclear armageddon and watched in amazement the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of Soviet Union and the end of communism as we knew it.

I've seen the explosion of technology that spawned the birth and growth of the Internet and the ability to place powerful computers in the palms of our hands, along with video chatting straight out of the Jetsons.

I overlooked the banks of the Kennebec River as half my town floated away during the Flood of 1987 and spent a primitive 12 days without electricity during the Ice Storm of 1998.

I watched my country fight in three wars abroad and one against a life-altering terrorist attack at home. I scanned the quiet night skies for aircraft on September 11, 2001 with knowledge of the devastation and chaos elsewhere.

I celebrated as three of my boyhood teams - the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics - won world championships and marveled with my brothers at how the experience never grew old.

I witnessed the United States' financial collapse and a return to economic conditions not seen since my grandfather's time - with massive numbers of unemployed, starving, desperate people.

I've danced at many weddings, celebrated many special occasions with family and friends and laughed at the innocent humor offered by my children.

Today I will celebrate the fullness of life - the highs as well as the lows - that has embodied my 42 years of existence.

And, with good fortune, I will look forward to what the next 42 will bring.

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