Today’s My Birthday… Why I Gave It Up.

July 22, 2012

my charity: water birthday

Flashback to a stage in Portland, about two weeks prior to today’s July 22nd date.  I’m sitting in a theater with 1,000 other people, listening to Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water talk about his life and his project- building wells for people in impoverished nations so they could have clean water.

Not just drinking water, but water for cooking. Water to grow gardens.  Water to clean with, to bathe with.  Water to simply enjoy and truly live from.

Scott used to be a club promoter who began cultivating addictions to everything under the sun-  spending money, drugs, sex, alcohol.  He spent some time abroad with mercy ships, assisting doctors who do surgeries that seem so basic in the United States but are unavailable in other countries-  like removing facial tumors that have become life threatening when left untreated.  He realized then that many of these people were drinking water from drainage ditches, scummy ponds and filthy rivers.

Dirty water kills more people than violence.

Kind of a weird thought, isn’t it?  This world can be a sad, sad place, but knowing that one little birthday can make living easier or even possible for somewhere else in the world put the truths of the world in focus.


But back to birthdays, my “giving one up” was actually more a selfish move than one of altruism.  Birthday planning can actually be a huge drag.  Coordinating disparate groups of friends in random parts of the city for a central location, to go to a restaurant or bar not everyone would like and managing times, dates, locations and busy schedules seemed more work than fun this year.

Add to that the bittersweet notion that I’ll be leaving Chicago and it will be the last time I see most of these people, I didn’t want my birthday to be focused on goodbyes.  I don’t think anyone ever really says goodbye forever, it’s just a new page, but add overpriced alcohol and good memories to that mix and you get a bunch of mopey drunk people who keep hugging and promising to visit.  I’d rather just keep it happy, brief and not so dramatic this year.

I guess my point in writing this post on a random (birthday) Sunday is this-  sometimes your motives for doing good are complex,  they don’t have to be entirely altruistic and selfless, you simply have to do good.

People get caught up in the motives behind philanthropy, volunteering and donations, I think that’s silly.  Human beings are complex individuals, and so are the causes we serve.  It’s not always why you do it, the point is simply to do good things just for the sake of doing them.

So, that’s my story-  I’m not deep, unique or altruistic.  Giving up a birthday for charity: water simply felt right.  

I don’t have a dramatic, long drawn out story to compel you to donate, but on that note, you don’t need to have a compelling reason to give.  

Even $1 or $5 would give you that warm fuzzy feeling.   No deep reasons, just do it because it feels good.

You can donate $1, $5, $26 or any amount you feel comfortable with… here.


But on a deeper note, thank you.

4 comments so far.

4 responses to “Today’s My Birthday… Why I Gave It Up.”

  1. Sharon says:

    Bless you….this will be a B-Day you remember the rest of your life….
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY you sweetheart you!!!!!!

  2. Julia says:

    happy birthday!

  3. Jaime says:

    go you! happy birthday!

  4. Whitney says:

    An excerpt from the Friend’s episode where Joey and Phoebe try to do something COMPLETELY selfless:



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