Today is April 7th. It is my birthday.
Today I celebrate making it to 40 years old, when 10.5 million males die – on average – every year before their 40th birthday.
I am also celebrating because my life is pretty much perfect. Almost all my needs are met – save two. That is not bad, I’m a couple of things away from perfection. And one of them is actually not a biggie, plus it is tremendous fun trying to get it.
My life is near perfect because I’m pretty fit and healthy and generally feel great.
I’m genuinely happy with here I am – joyful in fact.
My Joy comes from spending my life around my wife – Katharine – and my boys – Ruben and Haydn – in whose love, playfulness and curious wonder I delight.
My Joy is multiplied when I think of my daughters – Erin and Brianna – who have been through so much that was not of their choosing, yet emerge as these strong, intelligent and beautiful human beings who feel and care so deeply and love so unreservedly.
My Joy comes from our little village in Andalusia, Spain – with 300 days of gorgeous sunshine and surrounded by beautiful people who understand that life is better when it is simpler.
And my joy just got boosted with Maya – our new puppy, who was abandoned and destined to be destroyed. Instead she is our family and we are hers.
When I look over the last 35 years – I cannot remember much before that – I see beauty and strength in the people and the events of the past – even those that would otherwise be ugly incidents.
I see the soul light and hear the heart song of my friends and my family, whose lives I am so proud to have been a part of.
I see my mum – Harinder – who is truly incomparable to anyone who has ever lived and possibly ever live.
Harinder – whose passion for humanity, justice and fairness extends far beyond her family and lays unshakeable foundations for magnificence in all those who know her.
Harinder – who redefines ‘family’ to mean the World and by doing so, widens the circle of love for her and her children immeasurably.
I also see my dad – Hartley – who only now – 23 years after his death, do I begin to understand deeply who he was, what he endured and how – despite everything – remained such a beautiful soul and who I will miss forever.
I take Joy from my memories.
Wherever the winds of time take us, I never forget that once we laughed and danced together – like children – unafraid and as though no one was watching.
Twenty years ago today, a country went mad as though possessed by forces bent on brutal genocide.
Twenty years ago today, began 100 days of slaughter. Over 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered by their friends, teachers, neighbours, adoptive family, priests and protectors.
My birthday is forever connected with the Rwandan genocide and I’m OK with that because the World needs a reminder that unless we actively work to turn our differences into our collective advantage then we are doomed to repeat the violence of Rwanda, Serbia and all those bloody chapters in our story.
The question is what we do with that reminder?
At the heart of genocide is difference and the dehumanisation of people based on a perverted perception of differences. But genocide is only one outcome from differences.
Everyday, millions of people – like you and me – can make a choice to acknowledge and celebrate our differences and make them work for us. How might we get more people to make those choices?
Please make my day.
The last missing bit of my perfect life – the reason Joy cannot ever be total, is something outside my control. But I can do something towards getting it. I can make a simple invitation.
Please will you be willing to find someone today – a friend or stranger – and ask them as sincerely as you can:
What are you needing, right now?
Wait, let them speak without interruption, listen and help them share it with you.
Then do whatever you can can to meet as much of that need as you can.
That would make my day.
Happy Birthday to me. Thank You.