Friday, February 19, 2016

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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

We all have flying dreams.  In some of my flying dreams I am above everything, looking down on my street and seeing my friends.  It's like being above the turmoil of life.   In many of my dreams I'm unable to keep flying. Despite the fact that I am flapping my arms as hard as I can, I descend back to earth unhappy and let down.  It had been so exhilarating being above everything.
        For me it meant having to accept the fact that I am one of the vast number of normal, average human beings. Not easy to accept my ordinariness.   I realize that there is the 1% who have talent, even genius: the musicians, the poets, the leaders - those special ones who for unknown reasons I thought myself one of them.  Truth is I'm not. 
        Growing up, I thought I might be a saint. At the least a member of the chosen, the saved, guaranteed a seat in heaven.  Now I know heaven doesn’t exist, nor does God.  And so here I am down to earth with the awareness of the limits of my species. And individually painfully aware of my own frailties, foibles and failures.
       Oh there are times, that I can fly high, be connected to my higher self, the Divine within me, These times I accept as blessed moments. But they do not last, and once again I come down to earth, conscious of my limits if not aware within me of the latent darkness that I see manifest within my species that for wont of a better name we call evil.
       And this seems to be my task. To accept that I walk this earth, conscious of the destructive nature of my species, one with the lost and lonely and anguished of my kind, aware of my kinship with all who walk or crawl, and share this world, and open to the brief glimpses that are offered to all of us, of what is all about us – Life in all its awesome beauty and being.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

As Pablo Neruda tells us, "Poetry is spontaneous utterance of pure nonsense, pure wisdom."  For me this begs the question, what is the desire/dream/wish in your life that is pure nonsense, pure wisdom?
       This, dare you speak it, is the poetry of your life. And that is the daring that I see is required in life.  
       For me it is incapsulated in Nickos Kazantzakis' story of the old Greek who lived high in the mountains. Each morning before sunrise he could go out and call up the sun. Anyone can see the nonsense of the Greek's illusion, but who has the ability to see the wisdom hidden in the nonsense? That is the vision that Kazantzakis demands of us.
        Then to have the courage to bring a similar "poetry" into one's life. To find that which the rational mind cannot fathom - this is the key to life itself.
       I have claimed mine, my grand illusion as others might see it, but I am okay with that. And perhaps for that reason I hold it as a cherished secret.  I let it infuse my life with purpose, meaning and dignity. And thus has my life been changed forever. And you?