As I write this it’s the evening of 13 February 2005. In a very few hours it will be the 14th, a day best known to many as Valentine’s Day. In this household though it’s known as Miraz’s birthday, and tomorrow’s event has a special significance as it’s my 50th.
Every year I take the day of my birthday off work, but this year I’m taking a whole week, starting a couple of days ago and going on till next week. I originally had big plans for being a local tourist, but apart from a brief visit to the wind turbine on Thursday I’ve actually stayed around home refining my website and doing some house cleaning.
And maybe that’s fitting for this ‘big five oh’: I get my outside ‘face’ sorted and my ‘inside’ organised too. And for sure, after a lot of angsting late last year about how to celebrate this significant event it all seems to have become almost a non-issue now. I’ll be enjoying a quiet and inexpensive dinner with a few dear friends, and taking a stroll by the waterfront.
One thing does bother me though, and that’s the whole issue of presents. I know I like to give a gift on occasions like this, but I really don’t want to receive anything.
It’s very easy for me to think I’m not rich — after all, I quite often worry about how to pay the next lot of bills, I can’t afford overseas holidays, or to get non-essential repairs to my car, and when I watch TV or look around me I see people with fancy houses and flash cars, expensive clothes and all kinds of goodies.
But then I pause and consider which direction I’m looking in. If I look at South East Asia, India, many parts of the world, I see a whole different picture. I see people who earn as much in a year as I do in a day (or an hour). If I’m hungry I buy food. If I’m thirsty I turn on the tap and enjoy clean, fresh water. If I’m sick I visit the doctor and if I’m cold I put on a jersey.
There are millions of people in the world who dream of that kind of wealth and luxury. There are millions who, quite apart from tsunami and other natural disasters, live daily with hunger and disease, dirty water and poor shelter. Even in New Zealand there are many people who can’t afford to heat their houses, who must choose between paying for a doctor’s visit or a decent meal.
One organisation, of the many around the world who are trying to alleviate poverty, is Heifer. I like their approach to the problem and have asked those of my friends who feel inclined to give me a gift to instead give me a Heifer Honor Card— a notification that they have made a donation in my name. I’d love to be able to raise the US$10,000 donation required to fund a Women in Livestock Development programme, but not being the entrepreneurial type, I can’t see how to ever make something like that happen. And I can assure you I’m not the type to do a ‘bike-athon’ or a ‘walkathon’.
Anyway, this post is losing focus; it’s late and I need to sleep. I don’t really have a point here, but if I did, I guess it would be this: I’m thankful for all I have and feel a responsibility to try to bring benefit to others.