My name is Cy Henningsen. My pronouns are he / him / his, and I’ve been a member of the Society for 8 years.

First I’d like to thank Mayor Krewson for her leadership during this difficult time. On March 12th the Mayor ordered the Water Department to stop all water shut-offs until at least May.  On March 12th I wasn’t sure COVID-19 was going to be anything at all, but the Mayor had the foresight to realize how large of an issue this was going to be and made sure we have the water needed to wash our hands, a key way to slow the spread of COVID-19, as well as having water to drink and cook with and everything else.  More recently both Spire and Ameren have announced they have also stop shutting off utilities and Spectrum is offering free internet access to all students in St. Louis.  All of these efforts are major changes for larger organizations and signs that we can pull together during this challenge. 

Now, switching hears entirely, Opening Words is often a time for members and friends of the Society to reflect.  A month ago I turned 40. People asked me what I thought about that, and generally I gave a non-answer of, “Oh, it’s fine” or “No big deal.” But there was a feeling in me, something which was making me feel uncomfortable. I sat with the discomfort and realized what it was – the idea that the best part of my life might be over. That it was all down hill from here.

I’ve thought about it more though and decided this is the wrong way to think about things. Rather, at least for me, it is better to focus on various aspects of my life, and what I am making better in my life.

When I was a teen I could hike for half a day, and besides getting rather sweaty, I was fine. Now, I find a 30 minute to an hour hike is about my limit where I am still enjoying the experience. But that doesn’t mean I can’t hike – I just have to plan shorter ones.

Long gone are the days when I eat all day and not gain a pound [pat belly]. But, I am much better at cooking now that I used to be – and while social distancing is causing many changes for everyone, it’s giving me time to cook more, and that I’ve been enjoying.

Relationships – oh a big one – unvoiced assumptions – I had no idea they were so harmful. I know I’ve been mad at past partners for doing or not doing something I never even told them about. Telling those you care about what you’d like sounds so simple – but it’s taken me a very long time to realize how necessary it is. And how sometimes you have to ask what partners’ wants and needs are when you realize they are upset, but don’t know why.

So yes I am 40; and perhaps the best part of certain aspects of my life are behind me. But the best parts of so much more are still ahead – and there will always be things I can get better at, always be groups that can use my help, always things I can enjoy.

Focus on those things you want improve my friends, and the best days of your life are always ahead of you.

Thank you

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.