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“Baby: Unwritten history! Unfathomed mystery!” (Josiah Gilbert Holland).
WHEN WE’RE BORN, SOMETHING BEGINS THAT WILL BECOME MANY DIFFERENT THINGS BEFORE IT REACHES ITS ULTIMATE GOAL. A human life is an awesomely intricate web of realities. It involves attitudes and interests, emotions and understandings, abilities and achievements. It is a complex intertwining of a person’s character and conduct, with layer upon layer of thoughts, words, and deeds. Marvelous in its depth and texture, every person’s life is a story with many plots, subplots, themes, and points of view.
What a wonderful thing to be a baby, just beginning to discover what its history will be and determine how its character will unfold. Babies do come with inborn traits and tendencies, but from any given starting point, a thousand different paths could be taken. It’s thrilling to be still in the early stages of that process, a time when no one really knows what the outcome is going to be. As Yogi Berra quipped, “The great thing about young people is that they have their whole future ahead of them.” That may be a Yogi-ism, but it’s still an exciting truth!
Even if we’re old and advanced in years, we can still be people who are on our way to new things, people who experience the excitement of “birth.” We can renew our commitment to the best things in life and greet each day with the enthusiasm of new life, reborn and rejuvenated. There are decisions we can make that will revitalize us, and when we make these choices, we’re able to give ourselves to others as people who are fresh, rather than those who’ve gone stale.
Back when we were born, lives were initiated that will end up being something or other, whether we make careful choices about ourselves or not. Even the laziest person, who lives completely by default, is writing a story. But it’s a haphazard story, and it’ll be no joy to read. How much better when the beginning of a life marks the beginning of a process of improvement. All of us, even the most disadvantaged at birth, have been endowed with wonderful gifts. The good life means taking our birth-package of traits and circumstances and turning those raw materials into a worthwhile product. It can be a difficult process, without question, but being in the process is a privilege.
“ ‘Tis virtue, and not birth, that makes us noble” (John Fletcher).