My niece Page turns 20 today. Not the milestone that 18 or 21 is, but still significant.

During her two decades, Page has never known a world without the Internet, cell phones, 24/7 TV, video games, and CDs, which in turn gave way to MP3 downloads. She swims in that ocean as naturally as fish do in theirs. Like the rest of her Millennial generation, Page’s first language is Digital, while her Boomer uncle still sometimes struggles to speak it, lapsing often into Analog.

In her 20 years, this extraordinary young woman has also never heard “You’re a girl; you can’t do that.” Hers is a world where women are not limited in their options the way her grandmother may have been. So Page, I expect, will go on to realize her potential in ways no one in her family ever did.

Page also has known increasing acceptance and celebration of diversity. And she has looked into the “riotous kaleidoscope,” as someone once called it, and liked what she saw. She sought out a college roomie from another country. She has gay friends, Asian friends, black friends, gay black friends. The names of her over 1200 Facebook friends bear witness to how broad her relationships are.

Most importantly, over her lifetime, Page has never lived in a world without love. No doubt that single fact accounts for her rising above and moving through the deep loss she has experienced in her young life, whether the constant fact of war and terrorism and conflict in the world or the more personal reality of the death of her mother and more recently, her grandfather. She writes in her blog: “Everytime I talk to a member of my family, they tell me they love me. Or that they are proud of me. I’m so blessed beyond measure. Note to self: Don’t let yourself forget.”

What kind of world would we have if every child, youth, and young adult could say that?

Happy birthday, Page!

© 2011 Tom Cheatham