the best day of the year dawned raw as my feelings after visiting my mother, gray as the sweater made from black-sheep wool Beloved presented to me along with my morning coffee. the irony of such a sweater tickles me. there are gifts, and there are Gifts. this is a Gift.
i did not officially make my entrance into this side of the veil until 8:55 this evening, and so today has never exactly felt like my birthday. my mother was so proud she saved me from the awful fate of being an april fool. aren't you glad you're a march lamb and not an april fool, she'd coo.
considering my two favorite characters in all of literature - both from King Lear -are Edmond and Lear's Fool, no.
but that's another story. tonight, tomorrow - those are REALLY the first 24 hours of my life. my life began, as the ancient celts believed the day did, on the cusp of the night - the night of the Day of the Fool. as much as my mother tried to cloak me in lamb's clothing, i am very much an April Fool.
maybe it is the very perversity of my nature - nine of fifteen retrograde planets makes for a lot of perversity - that, unlike a lot of other people i know, i adore my birthday. i don't care how much older i get. i hope i celebrate as many birthdays as possible. when people stop celebrating your birthdays, the jig is generally up.
but it's the third scene of thornton wilder's Our Town that made an indelible mark in my 16 year old soul, and seared in me forever an appreciation of my birthday. it was the spring play my junior year in high school - for some reason i don't remember, i was not involved, which was unusual. but it meant that instead of strutting my little lines across the stage, i was sitting, in the audience, beside my best friend, josie. listening.
the line is spoken by the main character, emily, on the occasion of her 12th birthday - an unusual one because on it, she's back from the dead. what she sees, as she relives her 12th birthday, is the jarring clear juxtaposition between the dazzling magnificence of ordinary life, and lack of attention and appreciation we generally have for it.
as she stares at her mother, so young, her father, so vigorous, even her little brother looks cute - she realizes that something very precious is passing through her fingers, running like sand through an hour glass. everyone is busy, everyone engaged in the business of living, running to school, to work, to necessary obligations. but no one, emily realizes to her absolute astonishment, is noticing how wonderful, how beautiful it all is. can't we all just be? she pleads, and for one brief, shining moment, everyone - including the audience - does.
can't we all just be?
yes, i thought, that's how i want to live my life. it was one of the first times in my life that i heard truth, recognized it and felt it shape me, change me, alter something in me.
just being is a Big Task and i live a little life, chronicled more thoroughly here than anywhere else, i think. just being is a path from which i am easily blown off track, buffeted as we all are by needs and demands of all kinds. but ever since that moment, my birthday is the day - if none other - i devote to just being. whatever that happens to be.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed BE.