Sunday, March 25, 2018

Time to Shine

I used to post here every year on my birthday. Then I missed a year or maybe more. This year, I missed again. Or I decided not to post. I decided it would be better if I waited until the day after to write about the day before.

I enjoyed my birthday yesterday. Maybe more than usual. It's not that I did anything special. There was no party and cake or romantic dinner with my wife in some fancy restaurant.

Instead, I drove to my wife's Thai Buddhist temple and presented gifts to the temple in return for receiving good karma that will help me enjoy a better life in my next incarnation, or something like that. I don't believe that stuff, but I like to give and to help out the temple even if I receive nothing more from it than the pleasure of giving. And I like to please my wife who wants me to give to help out the temple and earn good karma for myself and for her.

After the presentation and the usual morning round of chanting, which I always sit back with eyes closed and listen to respectfully while the others carry on, I piled delicious potluck Asian food on my plate and savored every bite until I was uncommonly full by recent standards. And many people, including some of the monks, wished me a Happy Birthday.

After all that, I drove home while my wife remained behind, and I took a nap and then rose and started thanking people on Facebook for their birthday wishes. I really enjoyed reading their wishes and replying to them. Yes, I harbor no illusions that my birthday means anything special to them, unless they happen to share it, which some of my Facebook friends and acquaintances do. I know they're just being nice in what is probably an obligatory sort of way. After all, there's always someone we know on Facebook who's having a birthday no matter what date it is, especially if we know a lot of people on Facebook. Yet, I still appreciate, more than I ever have before, that they took a few seconds to write to me.

As I wrote on Facebook today, the older I get, and I'm well into my 60's now, the more I appreciate the simpler things in life. Yesterday I was and today I am still filled with gratitude that I was able to experience yet another birthday and that I am still alive and still in abundant possession of my modest faculties.

Is this because I know my time is running out? That's surely part of it. My time IS running out. And given what may loom in my near future, it might be better if it runs out sooner than later. But I think it's also the case that when we've been around long enough, we come to realize, if we're lucky, that many of the so-called "big" things in life--i.e., buying costly or prestigious items,  accomplishing ballyhooed goals and reaping extravagant rewards for it--is often not as fulfilling as stroking my dying cat on my lap, seeing my wife off to work in the morning, reading a wonderful essay on philosophy or science, listening to a beautiful 
Hiromi solo, or thanking someone for their birthday message.

I don't know if I'll be around next year to write on or soon after my birthday. I never know from year to year, and I know even less this year than ever before. Yet, from this point on, I'm going to write more and do more and be better for as long as I can. Not because I expect external rewards for it. But because it's my inner calling. To do my best and be my best.

I will focus much of my effort, wherever I am and whatever my circumstances, on producing a podcast and writing a book on free will and on becoming a professional writer and podcaster. Nobody would hire me for anything else because I'm old and have nothing to offer them. But I can speak and I can write and I can deliver something to this world that nobody else can exactly like me, especially if I stop trying to be different or better than anyone else. And I've hidden my light under a bushel for far, far too long.

Time to shine.

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