My 81st birthday
81 is a more interesting number than I first imagined. Eighty-one is the square of 9 and the fourth power of 3. Like all powers of three, 81 is a perfect totient number. It is a heptagonal number and a centered octagonal number. It is also a tribonacci number, and an open meandric number. 81 is the ninth member of the Mian-Chowla sequence. TMI (too much information), I know. But then this year of my life offers more than I can grasp or understand. I had originally thought of my 81st birthday as a non event, a birthday to ignore, but then ...
I realized that this was the last chapter of my life. And like any good story it needed a good ending. One that would take the plot line, the character development, the tension of the conflicting themes and resolve them into a satisfying, releasing ending (denouement?).
And so not to be content to sit in front of the fire basking in half forgotten memories of remembered accomplishments, real or imagined, nor accept the slow descent into senility, I've got up off my couch and started to shape my last chapter.
When I first read the lines from Tennyson's poem, Ulysses, "Old age hath yet his honour and his toil /Some work of noble note, may yet be done, /Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods." I knew this was the challenge and now the time to answer the call. The Noble Deed was what I was about.
The task: pull forward all the elements of my life that this final chapter will be the fulfillment of a life well lived. I realized that the reoccurring theme of the last two decades has been the toning, developing, expanding my commitment to loving. As my body and brain succumbs to the ravages of aging, I believe/hope/demand that the essence of who I am will continue to grow in love in that mature and cosmic way that for me is exemplified in that religious image of a Man with his heart exposed, pouring out love to all who he meets, indeed sending out love like a radiant golden light out into the world.
My last chapter – becoming this man.