"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
icon Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from Greek eikOn, from eikenai to resemble
1 : a usually pictorial representation : IMAGE
2 : EMBLEM, SYMBOL
3 : Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy...
Today the Birthday Buzzard came yet again, and as usual he took a bite with him when he left.
So, it's now officially 45 years old. I'm not getting older, I'm getting ancient. Yeah, yeah, I know, its not really that old. But it's sure older than I have ever been before.
Every holiday or special occasion has an iconic figure to represent it. Christmas has Santa Claus. Easter has a bunny rabbit. Even losing teeth has a fairy.
And birthdays, well birthdays are different. Sure there's an icon every bit as real as the ones I listed. But nobody wants to talk about him because he's mean, shifty and snively.
He's the birthday buzzard, and he's a party animal.
He shows up faithfully every single year. At first, he is just there to have a good time and watch all the merry making. But his good behavior is just a cover up for his real intent...He's watching them fatten us up.
Then we hit our twenties. That's when he starts to work.
Each year he'll take a bite here or a bite there. Small at first, maybe a creak in that joint, or maybe a little extra weight here and there.
By the time thirty hits he's hitting his stride. He's grabbing hair, making veins pop out, and adding some serious weight.
One year he will grab your butt, take most of it off, and stick it to your stomach.
By the time you get into your forties, he's running full blast. Grabbing lots of hair, and squinching up your face to make it wrinkle more and more. Sometimes he takes perfectly good hair follicles from men's heads, right on top, and moves them to their backs or noses.
And he will actually add wings to women. When they hold their arms out, you can see the wings swinging.
From the fifties forward, each year becomes a battle for the buzzard not to carry you away entirely. For a while, maybe for decades, you fight valiantly.
But then one year, it's just too much, and you let him have his way with you.
With all that said, the buzzard and I have an understanding. Each year when he shows up, we both seem to be amazed that I'm still standing. And as long as I am, he's gonna leave me be.
Except for a couple of hairs, of course.
So, today was birthday buzzard day. It started out OK. I figured I would go into work a bit late. That was fine since we actually get our birthdays off if we like. Not that anyone's getting paid at the moment.
Since last November, I have not missed noting a single birthday at our plant. Even if it was just some gift certificates to McDonald's, I did something. Now it was my turn. I had written it on the calendar, that way everyone could see it.
I wasn't expecting anything big. Just some acknowledgement.
When I got there, nobody said a word.
I was upset, but I couldn't really say anything. So I just went to my office and sulked.
I did mention that it was my birthday to a contract worker on the site. My wife called and I told her how disappointed I was. It wasn't long after that that she called back, and Mitsi buzzed me saying "Your wife is on line two, and Happy Birthday!!"
Well, that felt better, even if my wife had obviously said something.
A few minutes later, they buzzed me and said they needed me in the front office. When I walked in they had gotten a Moon Pie from the vending machine, stuck some candles in it, and called it a Birthday Cake. I was as tickled as I could be.
Mitsi even sang.
I grinned and thanked everyone then cut the moon pie so that everyone could have a piece. None of us really needed more than that anyway.
A few minutes later, as I was eating my piece, I looked at the calendar and it wasn't on the wall.
"Where's the calendar?"
"Max (one of the office cats) tore it up."
I looked and there was the calendar wadded up in a corner. June the eight, where I had so carefully noted my birthday, was missing altogether.
Sometimes, you just have to give people a chance, and they'll come through. This was one of those times.
We ate at a Mexican restaurant tonight, and it was wonderful. My sister called while I was in there (I never carry my phone into a restaurant) so I called her back as we drove home.
"Cliff, everything's all right but..."
So far in my life, whenever she uses that phrase it means that everything is certainly not all right. Such was the case.
"Mom's in the hospital."
She had gone to a doctor for back pain, and they seemed to think it might have been heart related. She had a heart transplant about twelve years ago, so if she was having a heart attack she might not feel it since all the nerves are cut. They were not taking any chances, and she was in the coronary care unit.
This isn't fair, birthday buzzard. This is too big of a bite.
It's 11:30pm now. We'll know more in the morning. Then I will have to make a decision as to whether to make the 300 mile trip there or not. If its anything at all serious, I will.
Yeah, happy birthday, me. Let's do this every year.
I won't feel sorry for myself though, I can't afford it. Later, when everything's over. Then I'll do that.
But then I won't have to, I hope.
I'm very pleased with each advancing year. It stems back to when I was forty. I was a bit upset about reaching that milestone, but an older friend consoled me. 'Don't complain about growing old - many, many people do not have that privilege.'
Earl Warren (1891 - 1974), Chief Justice