Today is my birthday.
But my birthday did not cause the sparkle in my eye today. No, if birthdays could cause sparkles, everyone would have them automatically each time they completed another revolution around the sun. Would that this were true! But, alas, I know plenty of people who snort in curmudgeonly fashion when their birthday arrives, exclaiming that celebrating past the age of 10 is just plain silly and that they will have none of that nonsense.
I am also at the front end of the longest vacation of my life thus far: three weeks in Naples, Florida.
But my vacation isn’t the reason for the sparkle in my eye today any more than my birthday is. If vacations could cause sparkles, we’d see that sparkle in the eyes of everyone who ever went on vacation. However, I can attest to the fact, having met many miserable vacationers the world over, that this is sadly not the case. I’ve heard people in Paris complaining about the price of a bottle of wine, or the fact that the locals don’t speak English to their liking. I’ve eavesdropped on families arguing at the beach: “Well, you kids had better start having fun, because this little vacation wasn’t cheap!” No, I’m afraid wonderful vacations don’t have the power to add instant sparkles to anyone’s eyes.
The house I’m staying in is quite something! Beautiful view. My own little on-site pool, and lake-sized pools with waterfalls and tiki bars just a walk up the road. Private gym. Cathedral ceilings. Central A/C. Free use of a car that’s great on gas. And I just bought a stack of fun new books I’ll get to devour while here.
But all of these nice things – I’m afraid they aren’t the reason for the sparkle in my eye today, either.
You see, if luxuries and money and all the stuff it can buy held such power in and of themselves, we would see that sparkle in the eyes of everyone who had nice things and money in the bank. Sometimes, it does almost seem as if some new purchase might actually be starting to somehow coalescing into that sparkle … but then it fades away. The new thing isn’t new anymore. The daily trappings are taken for granted. I know people who have ten times what I have in material possessions – even more – yet who are perpetually discontent. Restless. Bored. Unhappy.
I received unbelievably good news last week. I’m gaining steady ground with the book. And I have people in my life who love me just because. But good news and reaching career goals and having wonderful people available can’t make the sparkle happen to anyone.
Likewise, I’ve had many difficult and disappointing things crop up of this past year, even more so in the last few months. But not a one of them has the power to rob me of this sparkle gleaming in my eye.
So why do I have that sparkle in my eye today, if not for (or in spite of) any of these things?
I have a sparkle in my eye today for one simple reason: I choose to.
I choose to focus on the good and not the bad in life.
I choose to get excited about each small gain with the book along the way.
I choose to acknowledge and connect with and be thankful for the people in my life, and to remind myself often of just how lucky I am.
I choose to be content, whether in times where I have much (like during this vacation) or in times when I have little.
And, yes, I choose to be “silly” and childlike enough to celebrate my birthday, and to believe that I’m somehow a little extra special today.
It all comes down to choice. Because you always have a choice.
So I choose to have a sparkle in my eye.
What will you choose today?