I want you to think about your birthday.
Birth. Day. Two words.
We tend to celebrate birthdays as an accumulation of years; the amount of time that has passed since that moment we first dragged air into our lungs.
As a child, we yearn to be older, to be “big” and independent. Each birthday brings the excitement of a new number. “I can’t believe I’m SEVEN!” my son exclaimed last week as he bounded onto our bed in the wee hours of the morning. I can’t imagine having the same exhilaration about the number that I will turn in a few weeks time!
But my day won’t be diminished by the size of the number. In a way, I think it’s enhanced by this different perspective, a heightened understanding of what it is to celebrate your birthday. Your birth day.
I have the privilege of having been born.
I am alive.
These days, my birthday is more a celebration of who I am and of that marvelous day when I met the world and the world met me. It celebrates my uniqueness and purpose and wonder. It celebrates that I happened, and continue to happen, and am helping others to happen!
To explain this a little better, let me introduce you to a smart guy named Dr. Ali Binazir. He is an author and personal change specialist who studied at Harvard, received a medical degree from the University of California, and studied philosophy at Cambridge University.
A few years back, he did some calculations on the probability of a person’s existence, taking into account the odds of your parents hooking up (given the world’s population and the competition for a mate), the probability of the right egg and the right sperm combining, and even the likelihood of all your ancestors coming together the way they clearly have.
He concluded that it is basically impossible. A miracle.
“It is the probability of 2 million people getting together each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice and they all come up with the exact same number—for example, 550,343,279,001,” he wrote.
“A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I’ve just shown that you are a miracle.”
And then he wrote this:
“Now go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.”
That’s the essence of our birth day right there.
Celebrating the miracle.
It is pause for considering all the improbabilities that came together to ensure our existence.
And then to be thankful for all the interactions, the seemingly insignificant interactions with others, that have made the world a different place. Like that classic 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life, when George’s guardian angel reveals all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be if he hadn’t been born.
I want you to think about your birthday. Your birth day. Two words that remind us, not just of a timeline, but of the wonder of life, of our body’s capabilities, of air in our lungs and the echo of our footsteps. I exist! I live! I began, and continue.
We must celebrate all life for the miracle it is.