03/10/2011 04:00 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

On Perspective

I don't get to see my brother very often. I live in Los Angeles, and he's in New York City, but the few moments a year that I do get are always worth the wait -- quality versus quantity.

I've got a birthday coming up, so we got on the topic of life landmarks -- and aging. He told me of a time that he had spent his birthday at a Buddhist Monastery in Thailand with his "Achan" (the Thai word for "Teacher").

"Today is my 30th birthday," he told his Achan, who was the senior monk at the remote monastery.

"Ah," the monk replied and paused. His name was "Kovit", which means "Expert." After some thought, he asked my brother, "In America, what does it mean -- to turn 30?"

"Well, for some Americans, when they turn 30, they are sad because they think that they are getting old," my brother tried to explain.

"I see," Kovit nodded. "This year I have just turned 60. In Thailand, when people turn 60, they are happy, because they think they are getting old."

My brother chuckled, sipped his coffee and smiled at me -- the smile you get when you know someone for a lifetime, the same smile he'll have when we're both 60.