Friday, December 6, 2013

A Birthday Blog

I don't know what to make of the fact that I am seventy years old today.  Years, of course, are artificially-imposed structures which help us to organize our thinking. A year marks the time occupied by the earth in one revolution around the sun.  A period of the same length (365 days), starting at the time of one's birth, determines one's age. There are still cultures, though, in which people haven't the faintest idea how old they are. In our culture, age seems to be pretty important.

Seventy is considered old -- not as old as it can get but still old. In folklore, old women are supposed to be wise. In our culture, they are more apt to be characterized as a dithering nuisance.

Today I have entered a new decade at the end of which I will either be decrepit or dead...

...but then again, one never knows.

On the whole, I have led a rather silly life:

I have taken delight in small purchases of dubious value;

I have been spectacularly early to each and every event requiring my presence;

I have sent barbed words into the hearts of  people who've offended me;

I have loitered under bright sunlight without sunscreen or sunglasses;

I have forgotten what is ultimately important while memorizing endless trivia;

I  have indulged an addiction to all things, fatty, salty and sweet;

I have used bad words in the presence of my grandsons;

I have giggled out loud like a schoolgirl in public places even when I am all by myself;

I have measured out my life in aluminum cans (in particular, those which contain Diet Coke).

However, in these last decades of my life, I am not highly motivated to change. There is a sense in which every life is pointless (See Shelly's sonnet "Ozymandias") and a sense in which every life has meaning.  It pretty much depends on each individual's philosophy.

Here are some things I'm happy to have done:

climbed across rocks all the way to Diana's Bath on the coast of Maine;

gave birth to a daughter who, in turn, gave birth to my grandsons;

finished an entire novel and wrote one or two good poems;

got to know some totally awesome people who became close friends;

peeked under the label "disability" and found a human soul'

dwelt for awhile in Narnia and Middle Earth;

climbed all the way to the ice caves on Mt. Rainier;

watched spring erupt on the east coast in the company of my favorite niece;

lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 37 years;

saw the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory at the Louvre.

I no longer feel a need to impart some purpose to my existence. Sentient life is a beautiful and terrifying mystery and attempting to solve it theologically and philosophically merely trivializes and demeans it.  I prefer to think of myself as a tiny piece of something huge and unknowable.

I am perpetually in awe of myself  and all that surrounds me.


  1. I'm just grateful to be a part of your life - and now jealous that you've been to the Louvre! Happy Birthday! I love spending time in Middle Earth and Narnia as well.

    1. I'm grateful you're in my life, too. I hope someday you will visit the Louvre.

  2. "I prefer to think of myself as a tiny piece of something huge and unknowable."

    An infinitely beautiful piece of something huge and unknowable.

  3. This is gorgeous. Happy birthday. You have so beautifully laid down the ideas I've been struggling to voice in the last few weeks and covered them with sea foam and fairy dust. Thank you so much for this perspective.

  4. Thank you. The sea has always stood as a powerful metaphor in my life.

  5. Happy belated B-day.

    Kind regards from a 61 year old man named,