I observed, reluctantly, another birthday this week. I had to do it, because throughout the day people who know me were wishing me a happy day. My parents called me, as they always do, reminiscing about that day so long ago that changed their lives (not to mention mine) forever.
I got to thinking about Oak Park, Illinois, where I was born. My wife likes to tease me about the fact that I frequently can’t even remember the name of the city in which I was born! Actually, Oak Park is where the hospital was located. My mom and dad took me home from there after a couple of days, and I have never been back, not even to pass through. It was really just happenstance that makes Oak Park show up on all of my vital life documents. It was an “accident of birth,” as they say. Oak Park has had no discernible impact on my life, and I doubt that I have brought any acclaim or shame to the city as a result of my birth there.
I didn’t choose Oak Park. I didn’t choose the state of Illinois, either. I could have entered ths world through Wyoming, Louisiana, Vermont or any spot in between. Whatever the locale, I clearly had nothing to do with it and it has little to do with me.
And then I got to thinking about what my life might have been like if I had been born in Nicaragua, as a citizen and resident. What if I had come from the mountainous regions somewhere, what if I had too little to eat or drink, no time or place to learn, no voice with which to express myself, and no one to hear me, anyway? What would I be thinking and feeling on this birthday of mine, what might I be hoping and praying and dreaming and aspiring, but for this accident of birth? It’s an interesting scenario. Try it sometime….