Thursday, December 26, 2013
#360 / Under The Radar
Those fortunate enough to have a birthday on the day after Christmas get to fly under the celebration radar. That is my case, and that suits me just fine. When I was in elementary school, there were no embarrassing classroom parties for me, because my birthday was always during Christmas vacation. Even today, I escape my birthdays virtually unscathed. Tonight, I'll be going out to dinner with my wife, children, and grandchildren, and that will be just about it, by way of celebration. That's the way I like it.
I have had the very good luck to get another day older, each birthday, without finding myself significantly “deeper in debt." I do ponder the question, however, whether I am getting “older and wiser” as the years go by. I actually think that I am getting wiser, as I know I am getting older, but that is a kind of subjective feeling. I have not noticed that other people are telling me that!
I can remember, vividly, the time I suddenly realized that I was a separate and autonomous person, charged with capability and promise, and that I could act independently, and thus perhaps change the world. I was a freshman in college, and was standing on a balcony that overlooked the front lawn of Wilbur Hall, at Stanford University. Any additional wisdom that I may have accumulated since then has largely been by way of experience.
The experience of going to the Oak Room in the old Cooper House, at the end of the weekly meetings of the Save Lighthouse Point Association helped me understand that I was not only independently alive, but that I was part of a larger community, and that if "changing the world" was going to be the objective, that was something that was going to be accomplished as a group effort. I find, upon reflection, that my ideas haven’t changed much since then. On my birthday in 1974, I was twenty-nine years old, turning thirty, and had just been elected, for the first time, to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. I have had a pretty lucky life.
I thought then, in 1974, and I still think today, that our ability to participate in the process of governing our local communities is just about the best thing we have going for us. We are all individuals, charged with capability and promise, and we all get to age and get older individually. But we are not only individuals. We are also part of a greater whole. We really are together in this life, and it really is possible for us, when we act together, to change our world.
Participating in that process, the best I can, has given me many Happy Birthdays since 1974. I hope there are a few more to come!