a bit more than 2/3 of a century, otherwise not a particularly significant number.
Or even a significant age.
Except as of Midnight, that is how old I am.
Another year gone by, another year begun.
Having spent much of this past year "retired" I have had more time than in the past to reflect, to wonder, to wander, to read, to listen to music, to let cats crawl all over me.
I have experienced the immediate fears we both felt when my wife was first informed about her cancer - which the original belief was a metastatic organ cancer. We have adjusted to the reality that even the far more treatable blood cancer represents to both of us.
More than anything else, at least since January 27, that has been the dominant thing in my life.
I have already lived far longer than i expected. My father lived to 83, my mother only to 47. I am more than halfway between their life spans.
I know I am aging. It is harder to take off weight. I tire far more easily. I have trouble getting to sleep. Arthritis in a few spots is perhaps the least of the ongoing ailments with which I have to deal as my body begins to wear down.
Because we do not have biological children, I look to the future in a different way than perhaps I would were I a parent.
I have known loss - one cousin has passed away, before he reached the age I now am. Classmates and acquaintances, and many four-legged friends.
And yet, I find my life is not defined by its narrowing; it remains pregnant with possibilities, some of which i could not have until recently ever imagined.
I have never bothered with a bucket list.
I view life as a journey, a pilgrimage if you will, on which along the way I have begun to realize that the journey is at least as important as the destination.
I do not yet know the destination, because I do not travel towards a specific end.
I know that at some point I will pass from this life. How and when I neither know nor am I any longer troubled thereby.
My task is far simpler.
Did I find an occasion to make the world in some way a better place today?
Did I in impatience or selfishness pass up an opportunity to ease someone's pain, to provide a moment of support, of affirmation?
What new thing did I learn today?
For better or worse I am a teacher.
On Wednesday I was the guest "lecturer" for those who teach the Frontiers class, the mandatory freshman seminar, at Goucher College near Baltimore. I spoke from the perspective of someone who has been teaching high school students, they questioned and spoke from the perspective of what they are attempting to do to transition those young people into the different kind of learning expected at a liberal arts college.
We dialogued. They questioned, sometimes i questioned back. I shared and asked it if made any sense.
Life remains a co-learning process.
Today is a birthday.
Today my wife will surprise me with where she takes me for dinner.
Today I will do many ordinary things, like cleaning cat pans and paying bills.
Today i may remember other birthdays.
Today is a special day - not so much because it is my natal anniversary, as it is another day to learn, to experience, to share the joys and sorrows of others.
I will receive birthday greetings from many.
To our cats, they won't recognize that the day is special, except insofar as I let them have more time crawling on me.
It is a prime number, the last such birthday unless I reach 71.
My life continues.
I acknowledge the milestone as i travel past it.
Tomorrow will be the first of 364 consecutive unbirthdays.
Each day will be a new adventure.
Each day will be yet another opportunity to learn, to experience, to teach, to experience, to wonder.
I have had 67 years of life.
I have experienced more richness than I can justify - literature, art, music, nature, friendships, love.
Whatever sorrows I might be able to list are more than outweighed by the joys of life that are they - they are enjoys if I allow myself to enjoy them, if I accept them for what they are.
For the past few days I have not felt much like writing.
As this past year came to a close I wanted time and space to let it be, to process it, to reflect even without words.
I find words inadequate for how blessed I feel.
So instead let me offer two things, one long, one short.
First, a complete Opus 111 performed by Richard Goode - I can sit through this entire performance and at the end not really realizing that I have been breathing
And to end, it has to be Bach, but in this case something I have not performed, but have loved since I first heard this recording growing up
And with that, i wish myself a very happy birthday, in which you are welcome to join.