Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birthday Thoughts

As you may have guessed from the title, today is my birthday. Now this does not happen to be all that important to me, and in fact, there have been years in the past when I didn't realize it was my birthday until it was nearly over. But this year (I'm 43, if you think that makes a difference), I'm thinking about it a bit more. Oh, and in this age of facebook relationships it is practically impossible not to know it's your birthday days before it even occurs. I think I had six different sites remind me of the upcoming celebratory day, and half a dozen friends wish me a happy one before the calendar even turned.

But that's not all.

It may have helped that my son is at the age where he even counts half, and sometimes quarter, birthdays, as in "Hey, Papa, I'm five and quarter today." And that Marielle reminded me that she wouldn't be here for my birthday (she's on tour with the band in eastern BC).

Whatever it is, I have been thinking about this day quite a bit for the past week, and you, dear Reader, along with this blog, have fit prominently in my thoughts.

You see, I've been giving thought to the passing of time, and how it is that we mark that passage. The planting and the harvest festivals remind us of the chainging seasons. The holy days help us remember the cycle of faith within the year. The various ceremonies and rituals, such as graduation or marriage, help us know that we have advanced to a new stage in our life journey.

And birthdays can be that point in the year during which we pause and think about that gentle nudge of the clock that keeps moving us forward, ever forward.

They can be the catalyst that makes us stop and ask those questions: What has happened over the past year? What have I done? What have I accomplished? Am I a better person today than I was last year at this time?

They are the perennial equivalent of that beautiful quote from Baha'u'llah, "Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday." Every year should be an improvement over the past.

Birthdays are also a time of celebration, for many of us. They are the time when we are reminded of the miracle of our birth, and the love of our parents that brought us forth. They give us a hint of the joy of those who have chosen to share their lives with us. As one friend said, it is a time when we are reminded that on the day of our birth, "the angels sang and they blew on their horns and they smiled and they raised up their hands".

And they did this for each and every one of us.

When we pause to celebrate, or even just contemplate, the miracle that brought us here, we are confronted, once more, with the magnificence of our own creation. We are "the noblest and most perfect of all created things".

But, as one of my favorite authors once said, "With great power comes great responsiblity." (Yeah, Stan Lee of Spiderman fame.)

'Abdu'l-Baha said that children have within them the potential to cast the brightest of lights upon the planet, or the darkest of shadows.

And so this year, I ask myself what have I done to bring more light into the world this past year?

Last year, at this time, my writing had stalled, and I was trying to figure out how to capture the voice of one of the characters in my book. A couple of weeks later I gave up, knowing that I needed to put it down for a bit. Then I went to that fateful meeting in Regina and was asked, as part of the group, how I had started my children's class. Thus was born this blog.

Now, over 200 posts later, I find myself continually searching for more ideas to share. My reading has shifted from mostly fiction to mostly inspirational. I am looking at the Baha'i Writings more and more, searching for obscure passages to try and unravel. I am more involved with children's classes than ever. And I am sharing spiritual thoughts in more and more conversations.

And I am writing even more than ever. I even found the voice for that character. Now I just need the time to finish my book.

I recently went to the library and noticed that they had organized their shelves differently from any other library I had ever seen. They didn't have sections like "biography" or "mystery". There was no "fiction" or "history". Instead, they had sections like "fun and quirky".

Which is where I found "The Year of Living Biblically". And this, too, has prompted my annual reflection on my life. You see, in this book, A J Jacobs has decided to spend a year trying to be as obedient to all the laws in the Bible as he can. During the first month or two, he is a staunch agnostic who has trouble with the whole idea of prayer. He is cynical and self-centred, and is wondering if the year ahead of him will change his approach to life and faith.

By the sixth month, you can see the change. He is often compelled by the idea of God, and is much more comfortable with prayer. There are times when he "finds refuge in prayer".

By the end of the book, he is still the same person, but much more spiritual, much deeper, and more aware of the world around him. He has had insights and disappointments, challenges and triumphs.

And in his story, I can see a mirror of my own. If I had known how writing this blog would change me over the past year, I have to wonder if I would have done it. Well, I mean, of course, I would, but would I have embarked on this journey had I known how tough it would be to maintain?

Way back when I first started writing this, a friend of mine from Europe e-mailed me and said that I had set myself up for "quite the challenge". (And then he stopped following this blog. Hmm.)

But today? Today I think I will walk down to the beach and watch the waves. I have been so busy trying to finish certain tasks over the past few weeks that I think I have forgotten about what is important.

And what is important? Well, dear Reader, you are. And my son, my wife and my whole family. And all my friends, new and old. As well as myself.

Today is my birthday, and I think I will celebrate by watching the waves.

1 comment:

  1. Loved it, Mead. I finished the first draft of my supernatural thriller for young adults last December and haven't gotten back to it after an editor friend dissected it. Not sure what it is going to take to get me back to it, except me. Admire your perseverance with the writing. I got tired of writing weekly articles that nobody read for Soul Essays. I tried for about six months but I don't know how to promote the site so I'm at an impasse. I really like how you were able to see your own growth over the year. My 40th is coming up in December so maybe it will inspire the muse. Sorry Marielle isn't there to celebrate with you. Glad you took time to remember what's important and admire the waves.


    Noah would like to say the following:

    Hi, Mead! Long time no see! Oh, wait...
    Anyway, for your birthday, remember THIS?
    Remember in Winnipeg when I accidentally blasted dad with bubble tea?

    Nargeldy fargeldy,