Twenty-six thousand eight hundred and fourteen. That’s just not any number. Nor is it the number of vehicles traveling on I-35 on any given morning. And even though it may seem so, it is not the sum of new residents moving to south central Texas daily.

No, 26,814 is significant perhaps only to me. You see it is the number of days (plus two) that I made my debut into this world at the Leicester General Hospital in Leicester, England in 1945.

Those days have been filled with love, laughter, joyfulness, gaiety, fun, excitement, delight, pleasure and contentment. They have also been complete with pain, sadness, grief, dejection, illness, disappointment, depression, sorrow and doubt.

Indeed, such is life for all of us no matter when our birthday falls. Nonetheless, I have always looked forward to each birthday and it seems each one triggers a time for me to self-reflect and think about life and its purpose.

Since my birthday is making another appearance less than 48 hours from now, I thought I’d share some personal observations and opinions about life and some things I’ve come to learn and perhaps understand (or not) along the way.

I was born a couple of months after Adolph Hitler committed suicide and just as World War II was coming to a close. In my own way I’ve always appreciated that fact but during my lifetime I’ve learned that sadly war never really goes away. It keeps returning like some relentlessly persistent disease that keeps coming back, perhaps on a smaller scale but often even more devastating to those touched by it.

In fact, my recent research tells me that since the end of World War II in 1945, there have been no less than 250 wars across the globe killing as many as 50 million people — and counting.

There’s no doubt that the day I die war will be raging somewhere on this planet. I guess we’re not as smart as we think we are.

During my lifetime, technology has gone far beyond what any science fiction writer centuries earlier had predicted with new advances coming to us each day. There seems to be no end to the marvels of technological expression on the horizon.

Despite these incomprehensible achievements, technology has not been able to solve the problems that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time; namely, war, greed, prejudice, selfishness, cruelty and hatred. Maybe someday.

I’ve found that just getting older does not immune anyone from making stupid mistakes. In fact, I probably make as many if not more mistakes now than I did when I was younger and didn’t know any better. Mistakes occur across all ages and when we make them as we inevitably do, we just need to keep on “keeping on” being who we are and not doubting ourselves by remembering that after all, we’re only human.

Finally, we must never allow money to take away the cost of what really matters. I’ve come to believe and not always in the easiest or most timely way, that truly being rich is best defined in things money can never buy — health, family, friends, love and all those priceless treasures stored deep within the strongbox of our hearts.

Anyway, happy birthday to me two days from now.

Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

(1) comment


Fitsko, I too marvel about the number of technological advancements which have occurred during my lifetime, but not without noting that many have also introduced new unforeseen problems. The best example of which is likely the introduction of the innocuous cell phone. In many cases, it appears that we are living in an era of technological advancement for its own sake without concern about the introduction of related new problems.

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