I awoke today to my 40th birthday, realizing that life makes us bigger than we ever imagined we could be. Like the universe, we expand and open up to an ever-growing series of horizons and vistas. There is no true end to this process. There is no epiphany so great that will allow us to offer a complete summary of who and what we really are. We are the never-ending, growing flux we see reflected in the world. While the aging process takes an undeniable toll on the body, it seems to have the opposite effect on the mind, spirit, and soul of the individual. These domains ripen within us independent of the pile-up of years, or perhaps because of them. We grow up, physically, and then down to take on the world's burdens and joys and its earthly delights and are thus able to penetrate more deeply into the widening mystery our lives ultimately become.
I know this sounds like I'm jumping wildly off-topic for a blog about our imminent adoption, but growing has made me philosophical. What fatherhood and adoption have made me realize is that we come to see traces of ourselves everywhere we go and that all of these images belong to us, deeply and truly, more than we ever give ourselves time to consider. But if we did spend more time thinking about our reflections in the world, we would struggle less against ourselves and in so doing we would struggle less against one another.
So when I see a picture like this from half a world away:
I see me. I see us. I see the universal We.