Szyperski: Worth a thousandWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My husband, Mike, recently turned 40 and I had the opportunity to make him a photo book to mark the occasion. I can’t say it was a complete retrospective of our life together since I opted to sift through only our digital images. Barring a few pre-digital photos that had already been scanned into the computer for various reasons, 1996 to 2003 went left unmentioned. Still, I think he got the gist.
Honestly, I rarely pause to recall much before 2003, the year our first child was born. Our life as parents has come to define us as people, so the thought that there was life before children is fleeting at best. In fact, I struggle to remember an existence that didn’t include our Jack and our Laney and our Lucy, nor do I really even want to.
Though bits and pieces of my wonderful childhood wander back to me now and again, I also struggle to remember life before my husband, my partner, my Mike. I just can’t seem to recall my existence as a half without my whole. I can’t remember what it was like to be a south and an east without my north and my west. Nor do I really even want to.
Don’t get me wrong; they drive me crazy. All four of them. Almost every single day. As I do them.
All of the crazy-driving is why I refer to sifting through photos as an opportunity. I literally looked at more than 50,000 pictures chronicling the past nine and a half years of our life together, from the time our oldest, Jack, was just seven weeks all the way to the present. I reflected on family, friends, work, vacations, good times, bad times, growth and change — so much change.
As I looked for every which-way my husband has taken on this life with me and with our children, I began to fall completely head over heels in love with him all over again. I’ve always loved him, but oh how I was reminded just how much. I love that he loves our kids as much and in the same way that I do. I love that he loves our families and our friends. I love that he loves to go to work for the simple fact that it takes care of us at home. I love that he loves computers and math and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most of all, I love that he loves me.
Just as we can find a thousand little reasons not to take a chance or take a stand or even take a backseat when need be, we can always find a thousand little reasons not to love someone. We can easily forget why we loved a person in the first place. Yet, it is an amazing and profound experience when we take a few minutes, a few hours or a few days to count all of the reasons that we do love them instead.
Birthdays are too often regarded as something those of us over the age of 30 should dread. They seem to be viewed as the unfortunate chance to add up all of the ways we have failed to be something other than what we are. They seem to be a memorial for years that have been lost rather than a celebration of the knowledge, wisdom and relationships that have been gained.
I greatly prefer the celebration angle. Even more than an opportunity to celebrate one’s own life is the opportunity to celebrate the ones we love. Birthdays gift us with a yearly moment to take pause and reflect on what another human being means to us in this life. Be it someone we barely know or someone we’ve always known, a birthday is a chance to focus on one individual and the place they hold in our heads and in our hearts.
With all of the tiny ways we may tend to irritate, inconvenience and even drive one another crazy many days of the year, it is essential that we take the time to remember how much greater and more significant the whole of our affection is for one another. One meaningful picture capturing the goodness of a life lived together can erase a thousand foolish and meaningless trivialities that have no lasting place in life.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.