“Birth is one of the greatest gifts we receive in life.”

I suppose this could pass muster for those who place the beginning of life at conception—or, in the case of Arizonans, before conception (gleam-in-your-father’s-eye theory, evidently). But most of us, when we say “in life,” or “in my life,” are referring to what follows birth. And this wonderful sentence did NOT come from an essay about when life begins.

I once had a friend from Austria who one evening, after we had imbibed considerable Austrian elixir (Bier hier!), intoned with great intensity, “Life is one of the most difficult things.” Even in my cups, or steins, I was able to ask, “Compared with what?”

That’s the question this sentence makes me want to ask, too: Birth is one of the greatest gifts we receive in life? What are the others? (An irreverent inner voice suggests here, A Pony.)

And what other gifts would be possible if we didn’t get this one?

If we are born, do we receive birth, or do we achieve it? The nice pink blanket I turned into my constant childhood companion was of the species “receiving blanket.” Life receives us, at least in a sense, because we are born into it. On the other hand, if Mama gives birth, I guess somebody has to receive it… which would be the infant—or maybe the obstetrician, possibly holding the receiving blanket… ahhhh… Please, somebody stop me!

What we have here is a good example of a Grand Statement (or Sonorous Utterance, or Solemn Pronouncement). Students want to make them. And once in awhile one is called for. But a statement, grand or not, has to make both sense and sound. Ah, well.

Best just to enjoy the Great Thoughts and move on:

Birth is one of the greatest things we receive in life. But as for life—ah, life is one of the most difficult things.

Second only to writing.

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

4 responses to ““Birth is one of the greatest gifts we receive in life.”

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