As I do the countdown to my 70th birthday, I am reminded of how little we talk about death, sex, or money. Over the course of the past year, I have mentioned these relatively taboo topics to many friends. For some, the exchange gets eerily quiet or muted. I think my friend Frank might have told me about the Death, Sex, and Money podcast, but even that resource generally ends up with a focus on specific phenomena rather than broader concepts. Still, I like the efforts of WNYC for producing the podcasts.
This past week, in anticipation of my birthday, I have given a substantial amount of money to organizations whose work inspires me and whose staff bring me joy. They are committed to the healthy development of teens, they seek to end homelessness, they assure access to sexual and reproductive health services, and they showcase dance. Each in its own way also seeks social justice and addresses racial and economic injustice. They all assure the rights of their LGBTQ staff and program participants.
I had intended this week to actually say the dollar amount I have given, but I am still quite ambivalent about doing so publicly. Instead, I have told a handful of intimates. I am not embarrassed about the amount; it is substantial. Rather, I feel awkward and fearful about breaking a taboo. Still, I believe that the taboo is in place so that people can pretend they are generous.
I find it ironic that it feels easier for me to post the photo here than to say the amount I have given.