Wednesday, October 29, 2014


 Last year, on my birthday, I was at Auschwitz.
(Which is always a good opening line at a cocktail party. Pretty fancy small talk right there)
Surrounded by death, witnessing the ruins of one of the great tragedies of the human race, I was, understandably very moved.
It was an introspective experience, which resulted in a renewed gratitude for my own life and the countless beauties and blessings given to me each day.
This year, I walked through the bustling streets of Spanish Harlem, smiling at the grandpas who were sitting together, chatting, smiling, waving at the passers-by. The mothers with the babies in their strollers gabbed at street corners and parents ran a school fair, as the children laughed and screeched together while playing carnival games. 
I was surrounded, from the tops of the colorful buildings down to the small cherry tomatoes on their green leafy stems, by life in abundance. Its vibrance and activity reverberated through the bright blue October sky. The wind rippled across the river, the city quaked with noise and golden laughter.
In contrast to the death of the year before, my day was full of life.
My birth was simply part of the joyful dance of the day.

While experiencing how radically different birthdays can be, I also experienced how traditions, rituals, and customs can stay so comfortingly the same throughout the years.
For example, being photographed sleeping on couches:
Birthday 2011-ain't no party like a slumber party.
 I have nice friends, who like to post embarrassing pictures of sleeping innocents on social media.

Birthday 2014-cozy Disney princess blankets make every nap a party.

Some traditions never change.
Like cake and presents, blowing out candles and making wishes.
Birthdays are days full of gratitude and rituals: two of my very favoritest things.

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