Birthdays - A time for self-reflection

Birthdays - A time for self-reflection

by Doyle Ranstrom on Jun 13, 2019

Birthdays are interesting.  Birthdays are a personal annual event to remind us we are one year older.  For some, birthdays are depressing because they are getting older. This makes no sense to me.  I learned a long time ago the alternative to getting older is not good, so I am all in favor of birthdays.

For many, birthdays are a time for parties and presents.  I get this, but I would suggest it is more important to spend at least part of the birthday in self-reflection.  

Lately, one item of reflection for me is being switched at birth, or at least that's the story.  After  I was born, the nurse at the hospital in NW Minnesota brought my mother a baby who was also just born at the hospital.  This baby's mother was part of a Hispanic migrant family who was in the area working fields for farmers.  My mom said she knew they brought her the wrong baby right away and I was then brought to her.  This is all true.  

My older siblings for years afterward maintained it was never straightened out and I am the son of a migrant worker. Since my older siblings were all blue-eyed with fair skin and I have brown eyes with dark skin, it was always hard for me to disagree.  If true, this means there is a blue-eyed gentleman who at least growing up, lived the brutal life of being a migrant worker, hard work, long days, not much money.

I often reflect on the different opportunities from the very beginning of these two little people, born on the same day in the same hospital. Even though I was born on a poor farm with no running water and my father was killed in a farming accident, compared to the other little boy born on that day, I was blessed.  My mom once told me that she was able to go back to school after my father was killed because she knew she would receive $50 a month from social security as a widow's benefit which enabled her to buy groceries for the family.  It must have worked, I was husky growing up. Husky is what your mother says when you are overweight and she did not want to use the fat word.  I also was able to attend excellent public schools from kindergarten through high school.  

My little "twin" would likely not have any of those blessings or opportunities.  I reflect on this a lot.  Two babies, born on the same day, in the same hospital, both from poor families.   One family received some social benefits along with quality public education, both paid from taxes.  The other, poorer migrant working family, likely had neither.  

There are some who believe they self-made men and too often these men are in love with their creators. The reality is there are no self-made men or women in the US.  Success of any type comes from hard work, perspiration, and inspiration.  It also comes from the benefits of being born into a society that has historically understood the benefits of investing in its citizens and society overall.  

I would hope all of us, as we have birthdays, appreciate each one because they are a gift.  I know a whole of people who would have liked to have a few more.  I would also hope birthdays are an opportunity, especially as we get older, for self-reflection about the opportunities and blessings we have received in life that came with birth.