Long time ago I was given a birthday present. a present that I can never receive but once. Though it was the best gift I could ever get I didn't know what it really was.
It was for free so I thought it was of little value and must be cheap. May be that was why I thought I could afford to get one on my own, somewhere - somehow.
I have it with me for twenty years now. The fascinating thing is that it grows more and more complicated each year. Within these twenty years there was never a time when I could fully understand what it is.
There are times when I wish I could just throw it away. Other times I wish I never had it. That's not all.
There are also times when I am so happy with it that I wish I could have it and hold on to it for eternity. But most of the time I was so disturbed by its complicatedness that I forget to appreciate the good things in it. That's when I expect too much from it.
Sometimes I just wonder why this present was ever given to me. Why was I given such a present that I have a hard time understanding it. Who, in the whole universe, could be that rude to ever give such a present as a birthday gift to anybody?
Rather than that what makes me more sad is to realize that I can't have it for ever. All the hardships I had faced trying to understand this present will all be gone someday. Then why should I even care? It's not mine anyway.
But then, I learn that it was not for free. who ever said it was for free? It was given to me out of love. not because of rudeness. If it was, then, bought with a price and then was given to me then it must have worth something. So I give a thought about it and make it a point that I should find out why I ever thought it was for free.
I find out that it was because I took it for granted. It never was priceless though it was given to me for free. As a matter of fact, feels frightening to learn that it was bought with somebody's blood.
Somebody actually had to sacrifice His son for me and buy me a gift with His son's blood.
In fact, this present was never mine though it fell into my hands. I never own it because I have not quite earned it. I have no right to claim it as mine. If it's not mine and I have it with me then it was lended to me. That means sooner or later I will have to return it; that's what I've realized lately.
The truth is He can take it back anytime. I was never told I could have it for as long as I want. eventually, I will have to return it to Him.
Then, what I can do, now, is to get the best out of it before He take it back.
Make use of it, guard it and take care of it. Return it to Him as good as new that on that day He may give me a better one that will last for eternity.
Thank you God for this birthday present - this life.
Sang Valte contributes regularly to e-pao.net, this article was written on the eve of his birthday!
You can email the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
He has a very active personal website at http://www.xang.tk
This article was webcasted on 23rd March 2005.
Lake Effect essayist Elaine Maly's birthday is tomorrow. But as she looks ahead to the next one, she also looks back at a notorious one from her past:
My birthday is January 8th. Two weeks after Christmas and one week after New Years, in the dead of Wisconsin’s winter. It’s usually not much of a celebration. I’ve had a birthday gathering that was canceled due to a six foot snowfall. A birthday when no one, not even my mother, remembered to send a card. Oh, and then there was the year I turned 40. I had an emergency tonsillectomy. Yep, at best, my birthday has been just another day for my entire adulthood.
Except for last year. I was turning 59, the last year of a big decade, and I had just quit a job that paid well but sucked the joy out of life. It was time to get out of the god forsaken freezer we live in and let our friends, California Dave and his wife, Misao, show us a good time. Dave and Misao live in San Jose and are wonderful hosts. My husband, Tom, and I had visited them many times before and they knew exactly what I would like. The morning of January 8th we set out for a long hike in the red woods of Henry Cowell Park and had a picnic lunch. Then on to wine tasting at Beauregard Winery. Late afternoon we headed to Bonny Doon beach to watch what promised to be a glorious sunset.
As we started our slightly tipsy descent down the sand dunes with a blanket to find a comfortable viewing spot, something besides the setting sun caught our attention. A paunchy middle aged naked guy with shoulder length white hair, who had a remarkable resemblance to my husband from a distance, was running laps between dunes.
“Hey, that guy could be Tom’s stunt double,” said Dave. A humorous observation. There were distinct similarities. But seeing a naked guy wasn’t a big deal. We’d been to this beach before and been exposed to similar situations. This is a nude friendly beach but we’re not the type to indulge.
We had just settled down on our blanket to watch the sunset when Misao inexplicably got up and took off after Naked Guy. Most of the time, Misao is pretty quiet and reserved but every once in a while, she surprises us. Like the time she yelled “Heat it up, heat it up” at the craps table at Potawatomi. Or the time she leaned over the balcony to blow kisses to the cast of Jersey Boys. Or the time she scolded me for being impatient with my husband. She later apologized for “going all Japanese on me.”
We could see that Misao and Naked Guy were exchanging a few words and then they turned and ran back to the blanket together.
“Oh, no she didn’t,” I said and had serious thoughts about running the other way.
“I hear it’s your birthday,” said Naked Guy.
“Yes it is,” I said trying to avert my gaze.
“Well, happy birthday,” said Naked Guy with a shrug and returned to his jiggly lap running.
“Nope,” said Tom who had the same close up view I did. “No way that guy could be my stunt double.”
I laughed so hard I snorted merlot out of my nose. “If I was going to see a naked guy on my birthday, couldn’t it have been Antonio Banderas?”
Essayist Elaine Maly is the 2015 winner of the Wisconsin Writers Association’s humor writing contest. She writes about her life as a native Milwaukeean at her website.
Lake Effect essayist Elaine Maly reads "A Memorable Birthday"