Inch by Day

They never said, “Play It Again Sam.” Not once. That is probably one of the most misquoted lines in all of Hollywood. Casablanca. With Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart.

Today is her birthday, Ms. Bergman. August 29, in the year of 1915. But she died on this day too. In 1982, at the age of 67. Stomach cancer.

I wondered how many people die on their birthdays. I wondered if it is a big deal. Of course, I had to look it up. Because of course, everything under the sun has been subjected to some sort of “study” and this is no exception. My findings:

“A 2012 study in the journal Annals of Epidemiology found a much higher probability (about 14 percent) that people over 60 will die on their birthdays. That study, which analyzed more than 2 million deaths, found that strokes and heart attacks rose 18.6 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively, on birthdays. Tragically, the study also found a 34.9 percent increase in suicides and a 44 increase in deaths from falls.”

Not only that but putting on your party hat may increase the odds too. It seems that young people between 20-29 years old have an excess death rate of 25.4 percent when they have a birthday. My guess is that the celebrations went a little bit wrong. Okay. A LOT bit wrong.

Birthdays. Death days. A lot is going to happen today. 360,000 births. On this very day, alone. And then deaths. 151,600 people will die today.

Our human lives are certainly measured. In every way imaginable, depending on who we are. Take Ingrid Bergman. I sure did love her as an actress. And for good reason. She won three Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, and a Tony Award. That’s a lot of awards, and a lot of people holding up a measuring stick.

Especially the BAFTA Award, which stands for British Academy of Film and Television Arts. All these years I thought it was “Bad Ass Females That Acted” — but it is not. But Bergman was.

Anyway, I digress. We are measured. Some people by their bank accounts, and others by the good work that they do. Still others are measured by their parenting skills, or perhaps their prowess in math. It all depends on the who, and the what. But like it or not, people look at all of us, and measure us somehow.

“Oh, Fred. Yeah. He’s a heck of nice guy, but he drinks too much.”

“Caroline? Boy, can she ever talk your ear off. But have you seen her quilts? They are marvelous.”

“Jim. He acts like he’s made of money.”

It goes on. We all get measured. And as far as I know, we all measure others. It is the nature of the beast. We beasts.

But when we know ourselves, is when we know the best measure of all. Being true to ourselves.

Not only is it a matter of personal integrity and self-respect, it is about being “in line” with head, heart, and spirit. Standing up for our own values. Hearing the beat of the little drum in our heads, and following that beat.

Being true to ourselves is a life-long practice. It really is. And the older we get, hopefully, the better we get. Sometimes, that means choices that we make, moment to moment. And then we grow and evolve.

Our “measuring tool” is at our core. When we are being true to ourselves, we are honest with what we feel. We are honest about the things we deeply value.

And then it shows.
And every other measure slips away. No matter when we are born, or when we will die. It shows in how we live.


“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” — C.S. Lewis


“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” — Franklin Roosevelt


“People may doubt what you say but they will always believe what you do.” — Anonymous