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.