, Salem, MA


February 20, 2014

Anderson: Birthday thoughts, from Bode to Barack


You may recall that I couldn’t make this treat for my son’s birthday when he was visiting because the Nabisco cookies were no longer anywhere to be found; I felt this could be a sign that my mission on earth was finished. But the cookies have returned to the shelves, so onward to the next election!

Birthdays, and life in general, can be so wonderful. There are holidays, museums, great food — including dessert. Olympic champions take your breath away, and during a birthday week, it’s nice to see an old-timer like Bode Miller win his sixth career medal. Skaters spin and leap to some of your favorite music.

My birthday tradition is to do exactly what I want on my birthday (same as on the other days, except I don’t let myself feel guilty about the other things that aren’t getting done). This year, I had fun with Facebook, new in my life since the last birthday, getting many delightful birthday greetings. There were also the traditional phone calls and cards from family and old friends.

Many days of our life, we can watch excellent television, read good books, maybe travel, or just sit and watch the seasons pass. Here’s the point I want to make. None of it matters if freedom fails. I think I accurately recall a scene in the movie “Dr. Zhivago,” in which the protagonist, played by Omar Sharif, on his way to prison in Siberia, gets a chance to briefly leave the train and finds himself in a birch forest; he’s filled with joy by its beauty. I know there are people who live in appalling political circumstances and still find pleasure in the small life left to them. I don’t think I’d be like that: I want life MY way, surrounded by the Bill of Rights (as I learned it, not as some of them are presently defined).

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