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Day 108: Birthdays

“Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.” ~Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Today was my son’s 14th birthday. I told him everything I could remember about his first birthday. It is remarkable how some of life’s memories are so vivid, they are as fresh and detailed as though they happened yesterday. Equally amazing is the wonder of human development, that this almost teenager was also that tiny baby. Fourteen is an important milestone in the seven year cycle that Waldorf education acknowledges as the time of significant leaps in emotional, mental and physical development. 

Birthdays are how we mark time, whether in our own lives or through the people we love. Watching a child grow up is as direct an experience of the passage of time as there is. It may even be more obvious than my own aging, which is tricky because my spirit still feels young. But watching your kid gain inches on you year after year is one way to know that you too are falling into the generation gap that looked very different from a youthful perception. The most important lesson that I learn from celebrating birthdays is that the single objective in life is to grow. This is true whether you are growing up or growing old, which is why Lincoln was right when he said that “in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

"Birth: The Mission Begins," Toward a Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe, 1995