Happy Birthday to Me!
Partly to assuage my own anxiety that I haven't accomplished enough at this point in my life, and partly as a mental exercise, I started making a mental list of all that I've seen, done or accomplished in my life that would be truly noteworthy. It wasn't long before this list became too long for me to keep track of in my own head. Since I still couldn't sleep - and the mental list probably was keeping me awake - I decided to compose all of these thoughts in one blog entry.
This will, of course, be a fairly long entry. It's a recap of 38 years worth of existence, after all. Rather than go into every point, I'll just record some of the things that most people don't already know about me.
In my 38 years on this planet, I published my own novel. It never reached the New York Times Bestseller List. However, I do get a certain amount of bragging rights when talking with people who talk about this great story idea they have, but they've never put a word of it to paper.
I saw what the world looks like from 30,000 feet when a C-130 opens its aft door. This, of course, is the door that paratroopers step out of on their way to work. I wasn't one of those troopers, but simply seeing the world from that vantage point gave me a whole new level of admiration - if not outright awe - for anyone willing to do it.
I also saw what the world looked like from the top of the World Trade Center. For weeks after 9/11, I had nightmares of what it must have been like for the people in Windows on the World as they went crashing towards the ground.
I met the President of the United States, a dozen or so members of Congress and a few ambassadors.
I met rock stars, movie stars and sports stars.
I saw the Pope.
I played a key role in shutting down a major narcotics, prostitution, and money-laundering operation. I had one of the greatest scares of my life when the principles in this affair learned that I was a police informant. I had to leave town in a hurry and with nothing but what I could carry.
I learned that - as good as they are and as hard at they work - you simply can't count on the police to protect you. They'll do what they can. Beyond that, everyone is pretty much on their own. (See the above paragraph, if you're not sure what I mean.)
I held my niece for the first time when she was just a few days old and have watched her grow up. She amazes me every time I see her.
I was robbed and learned that possessions can be replaced; friends and family can't.
I learned that friends and family are what makes this world worth living in.
I survived a near-death experience and lived to tell the story. More over, I learned that in every minute of our existence on this planet, each of us is always near to death.
I was shot at and stabbed once. Luckily, the shooter was a really bad marksman and I got bandaged quickly after the stabbing.
I learned that angels watch over us and that spirits follow us.
I discovered that the only way to make it though life is to remember yesterday and plan for tomorrow, but to live for today.
I learned that God exists and He has a weird sense of humor. (Really, for some things, that is the only explanation for why some are the way they are.)
I completed a documentary film when several people thought I was crazy for even trying it. I then stood in awe before a packed crowd at its premiere.
I held two Academy Awards - one in each hand. I had to give them back, of course, because they weren't mine but after holding them I refused to wash my hands for a week.
I stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, walked the halls of Congress, wandered the hallow fields at Gettysburg and danced on the field during the Super Bowl XL Half-Time Show.
I resolved on dozens of occasions to never date again, only to break that promise to myself. (Women are an addictive species.)
I was on the television news often enough that it doesn't faze me to be on there again. (Although, if Stephen Colbert ever wants me for an appearance, I'll be there in a heart beat.)
I saw a tornado that was heading towards me and realized that God wasn't done with me yet when it dissipated back into the clouds.
I traveled across the country during one of those college road trips. I even started a snow ball fight in the middle of I-75 when traffic was at a virtual stand still.
I learned that the most beautiful piece of art anyone may ever see is a crayon drawing that a 5-year old made especially for you.
I realized that I have absolutely no interest in sushi and that wines are more enjoyable the dryer they are. I came to know that there are those who vehemently disagree with my opinion on both of those things. Moreover, I discovered there really is truth in the adage that it take all different kinds of people and opinions to make the world go 'round.
Above all, I learned that Abraham Lincoln was right when he said:
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.With all of that in mind, I simply say, "Happy birthday to me." I made it through another year and have had some life in my years.