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A birthday reflection

One of my favorite professors told me just a few days ago: "The point of life, if there is any, is to experience as many different ways of being human as possible." And being human is incredibly complex. What does it mean to be human?

Jethro Castillo
Jethro Castillo
2 min read

As I sit at the dinner table at my host family's home in Copenhagen, I find myself reflecting on my birthday after a day filled with celebration, but also some sadness. If you know me, you know that I don't really enjoy my birthday. The day has a somewhat tumultuous history. I have cried on more birthdays than not. I have been alone on more birthdays than not. I had always found it a sour irony that it falls so close to Thanksgiving because what is there to be thankful for?

One of my favorite professors told me just a few days ago: "The point of life, if there is any, is to experience as many different ways of being human as possible." And being human is incredibly complex. What does it mean to be human?

Forgive me for my nonsensical and poetic answer, but to be human is to be. We can set goals, fall in love, and be merry. We can also fail, break hearts, and struggle to find joy. Life is full of the good and the bad. That is unavoidable. And yet, all of that becomes a part of our experience, a part of our story. Ultimately, all of it shapes us and makes us more unique than we were before. Each of our lives is a different way of being human. And every moment in each of our lives is another way of being human. In short, to experience as many different ways of being human as possible is to immerse ourselves fully in the life that we have, in good and in bad, in abundance and in lack. There is no other way. There is no other life any of us can live. What is, is, and what isn't will never come to be.

It then logically goes that I don't think the meaning of life is about being happy. It can't be, or else much of our life has no meaning. I think it is about 'being' fully - with all that we are. To be utterly present. That, when life lends itself to happiness, be happy. But, when life urges us to feel sad or any other feeling, we should allow ourselves to feel it fully. We should lean into the life that is in front of us. Because eventually, it will be behind us, and it is nothing more than something to look back on. Feel it when life asks you to feel. Reflect on it afterward.

So, yes. My birthday was still rather somber today (Celebrating it in Copenhagen made it better). I think I would rather not draw any attention to it. However, I embrace the quiet somber of the day. In fact, I am grateful for it. It melds into this rather silly thing I call my life. My life is no other way except for how it is. And that is a beautiful gift. My experiences, good or bad, are unique to me. Whether I feel joy or sorrow, it is my joy and sorrow. When I believe I am good enough, I am human. And when I don't believe I am good enough, I am still human. My humanity remains my own. This life is mine. No one can take that away from me. That is quite a powerful sentiment, don't you think? I am because I am.

Here's to experiencing as many different ways of being human as possible. To all that know me, I love you. Thank you for being in this life with me.


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