October 21, 1997


A Profound Birthday

It's my 30th birthday (omigawd!) today, and we sort of celebrated it already last weekend with some close friends of ours. My wife still wanted today to be special somehow and I was just tired and a bit weary from all the work I'd done today.

She wouldn't let me pick up around the house, help with laundry, etc. saying, "It's your birthday! You're not allowed to do anything."

Finally, in the kitchen she said she felt bad about today because we didn't really do anything special, and I told her, "Hey, we did something last weekend for my birthday, so don't worry about it."

You know how some loving wives are, they still feel bad. She kept saying, "But.. " and I finally said, "Ah, I'm doing just fine -- I'm just happy to be alive."

And she responded sharply with, "Don't say that!! Only people in their eighties say that!" She said it seriously!

I couldn't help but laugh pretty heartily. It may not seem really funny to some of you -- I guess you had to just be there.

But, really, I'm just happy to be alive! I've got the urge to go off track here, so you can either move on, or go with the flow...

I've been besieged with all sorts of adversity this year and last. Wanna idea? When we got married a year and a half ago, my great-uncle dropped dead on the day of our wedding. Wife got into a bad car accident, and probably needs to go to a chiropractor for the rest of her life. I started my new business almost a year ago -- that's not adversity, but soon after, I also was hit hard by Meniere's Disease, a chronic vestibular disorder/illness and for a few months it profoundly affected my life -- I couldn't do much of anything. My business virtually shutdown at the time. My wife and I lost our unborn baby to miscarriage a few months later. Every damn thing broke in our house, even my own car's engine blew out, testing our financial resources. My parents divorced. My wonderful father is having a hard time adjusting and it's painful to watch, knowing that he was once that God-like father figure I looked up to It's my turn to be a "dad" to him. My younger sister's recent tests showed a hint of cervical cancer. One of my best friends and former business partner's Hodgkin's Disease (cancer) came back to ravage him. My grandfather-in-law passed away several months ago after a long and unhappy battle with the elements. The grandmother I so dearly love had to go to the hospital recently for treatment of collapsed lungs/lung failure. I could probably go on and on

Did you know that I am also handicapped? I was born with a profound hearing loss, which basically means I can't hear at all unless I have some hearing aids (which I do). I rely on lip-reading to communicate. Many folks have thought that this would be adversity. I don't even count being deaf as part of the adversity list. It's just something in the cards that I was dealt with at birth, so it's a non-issue to me, and I'm real happy to report that it's also been a non-issue in my life so far, not affecting it one bit.

The amazing thing is that other folks have gone through far worse adversity than I have! It helps put things in perspective. It's my belief that the world is how you make it out to be.

Your life is your destiny, which is in your hands. Your life is also about choice -- you have a choice to love life or fear life. That also means a choice between being happy or sad despite the circumstances surrounding your life.

That's why, despite a horrid two years, I'm still one of the happiest people you'll be around. I'm just happy to be alive and able to do the things that I can still do. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to sit here and type to you. I choose to be happy.

Granted, my life isn't perfect, and I'm not perfect. I know I won't be happy 100% of the time because I will have my down times, but you can bet I'll bounce back rapidly because there's only one way to bounce in my life, and that's up. :)

Folks, I'm smiling because I've been granted a unique opportunity to live my life on this lovely planet we call Earth, and I'm still here, 30 years later, and I've still got many more good years ahead of me, I'm hoping.

-Ray