It’s Ryan’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Ryan!
To watch him navigate rules, conventions, social mores is to see these things for what they are. Consider treating a puzzle as a barrier; they can be solved, yes, but consider that they might even simply be stepped around, if we are willing to let go of that which others would insist that we need. To show us this, we have him. He has only himself. Thankfully, for all of our sakes, that seems to be enough. So find speed! Literally let us find song in the hum of air over cracked car window, figuratively let us find more in the dance of ice in glass. Let us take comfort in the fact that fleeting pleasures may leave us but they can be chased down, again and again. Let us see not the limits in our lives but instead what he has shown us: that we are alive, and we should move.
It’s Jon’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Jon.
The Eucharist isn’t a metaphor. When the man in the robe says that it’s the body and blood of Christ, he means what he says, language plain and direct. It would seem absurd, if I didn’t know Jon. Many, many people tell jokes, things that must be processed mentally, tended to, for them to bring joy to others. They are text. Jon is song. What he offers this world is not this some assembly required humor, but pure joy. Literal, physical mirth passes from him to you, because he’s special, because he’s talented, and because he’s given. Take this, and rejoice.
It’s Bill’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Bill!
I know of no man’s laugh more toxic to the ills that plague us, the sadness that tugs at our inner selves, the corners of our being, the points where we begin to doubt ourselves. I know of no other man turned away from organ donor-ship (too big, they said, his heart is too big.) We all find ourselves at moments of spiritual exhaustion, but it is only the best among us who rest there because we have given everything to anyone who would ask. I have seen only the merest hint of Bill’s influence cause sadness to sing a song and despair do a dance. I have seen his words and his wit chase self-chastisement from the corners of our countenance. His is a simple, upward breeze; it might know the depth of the canyon only so that it might lift us to a comfortable resting place.
It’s Andrew’s (America) birthday! Happy birthday, Andrew!
placed in fMRI machines and shown pictures of Andrew, his friends’ brains light up in the standard patterns. the fusiform gyrus, moving through the temporal lobe, and finally the retrosplenial cortex. all of this is standard, but what stuns observers is what happens next; the whole rest of the brain lights up. every detector, every receptor, every last neuron, there is not a one that is not pushed to its activation threshold by the sight of Andrew. This puzzles scientists, but they suspect it is “a combination of meta-cognitive and implicit processes reflecting the self-evident fact that there isn’t a single thing about this world that isn’t made better just by [his] presence. A person’s entire brain lights up, it seems, in a desperate attempt to catch every bit of his splendid influence, and miss not a single shade of a single aspect of just how wonderful he is. These results have stunned the scientific community, but it is worth noting that not a single subject in any of the tests has been the least bit surprised. ‘Well sure,’ they all say, ‘seems about right.’”
It’s Ryan’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Ryan!
What we know of Ryan seems only to hint at his true wonders, not by virtue of a secretive nature but by the failure of our own instruments, our own ability to conceive of the heights one individual might achieve. But in that failure we learn so much, as it is only in light that we understand depth. I have heard grace spoken of as something universal between people; I did not entirely believe it until I saw the ease with which Ryan both pursues his own desires and brings such pleasure to those around him. He may insist on driving, but does the sun not dance on the horizon for us? Is that not the wind in our hair?
It’s Jon’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Jon!
Some are said to brighten any room they enter, as if the light within stretched to all they encounter. This is certainly true of Jon, but it is not all that is true. Before even the sight of Jon, at the sound of his voice or the hint of his presence, the shadows and sweeping wind of gloom beat a hasty retreat, all too aware that so long as he is around they will find no souls open to their mischief, they will have no weight with which to drag people down.
In the halls of misery those new to the work of sewing dread and sadness are given long lectures stuffed with vitriol, cursing his name as they take grudging account of his mirth-making power. From the back of the room comes a question. The feeling you get when you realize someone has deliberately not returned your phone call stands and asks: “How can we ever hope to succeed against such a man?!”
The desperate hollowness that comes from knowing someone you love does not want your help pauses mid-lecture. After a moment, it replies.
“what is your opinion on failure?”
It’s Bill’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Bill.
I have it on good authority that when the seven richest kings of Europe close their eyes and blow out the candles on their birthday cake, five of them wish for a friend as good as Bill. (The other two wish they were him.) The effect he has is not limited to the living, the thinking: I know of several mountains that would do their damnedest to turn to dust, should he ever ask. I could tell you that he is an inspiration, but that would not come close to covering it. In the moments where we consider what we might be capable of, Bill is the star by which we navigate.