My wife’s birthday was last week and we celebrated by spending a fabulous day in New York. We went to the theatre (Mary Poppins – her choice) and enjoyed two fabulous French meals (La Goulue and Brasserie Ruhlmann – my choice). Birthdays, it seems to me are ‘markers.” They mark something. They are a stake in time that say, “stop and realize that another year has come and gone.” They are benchmarks that help us assess where we are in life and what we’re doing. They make us more aware of the reality of our lives and help us navigate the direction of our future.
Some birthdays are bigger than others. Forty is a big birthday. So it fifty. At forty I was looking back on my life and assessing what I had accomplished. In my fifties I am looking forward and asking, “what will I do with my remaining years? “
I heard that part of the reason Caroline Kennedy is posturing for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat is that she is fifty-one and wants to do something significant with her remaining years. I get that.
At this point in my life I am looking forward – not backward – and making the changes that need to be made in order to “finish well.” I look at my life and think, “I have at most thirty years left and I don’t want to waste a minute.” I want to spend more time in France and less time in my office. I want to drink only great wine. I want to spend more time with the people I love and less time with the people who drain me. I want to spend more time doing the things that will last for eternity and less time focused on things that will be gone tomorrow. I want to spend more time enjoying my life and less time worrying about potential disasters. I want to spend more time being “me” and less time being the person I think I have to be in order for people to accept me.
Life is short and I don’t want to waste it.
January first is another benchmark. It is the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, and it is a good time to assess the previous twelve months and to look forward to the next twelve. It is a time to ask difficult questions – “have I been fully “me?” and “have I been working toward my STAR?” – and to ponder the steps for change. Time speeds by. Another year is gone- a benchmark – but what does it tell us about our lives and our futures, and what changes we will need to make?
It is perhaps at this time of year that we are able to take stock in what is important to us; what really matters. We can look at our lives and decide what areas need change and what areas we are thankful for.
I’m thankful for my family – a fantastic wife and two amazing, wonderful boys. I am thankful for a loving father, siblings and their families that I cherish and a mother who is gone but will never be forgotten. I’m thankful for being in Philadelphia and for the ease of this transition. I am thankful for you, my friends and clients, who have given me great joy in my work and have encouraged me to continue on. And I am thankful that at this time of year – this marker – I can celebrate when God became a man.
Christmas marks the most significant benchmark of all eternity – God entering the world in the form of a human – or as the song on Mandissa’s CD says, ‘What could be stranger than God in a manger?” This is the benchmark that makes me stop and say “thanks” to a God who loved me and gave himself for me.
This, the greatest gift of all, is the reason for the greatest benchmark.