why, then, is it so taboo, so unthinkable, so confusing and even obscene, when someone does not wish to opt in to the religion of the almighty calendar?
it's my birthday today, according to that calendar. through social networks and communication devices i get these messages, from family, friends, and strangers alike, wishing all versions of "happy birthday." while i understand the intention, and can make the extra effort to block out all external irrelevant facts and see things purely from the well-wishers' perspectives and take on board the birthday wishes in their simplest form, it is nevertheless the loneliest feeling, as lonely as any national holiday, to be so universally obliged.
i nod, ever polite, saying "thank you" and "awww" and "thanks so much" and every time it hurts. every time i want to say instead, "don't you know me? can you pretend, for just one second, for just one day, that you know me at all?"
every day is precious. i am aware, quite hotly, of my mortality every single day that i wake up and am not yet dead. i feel the breaths in my chest as they happen. i feel the gravity pulling on my blood cells to come back home to the ground. i rejoice in the magic of standing upright, bipedal, balanced, keeping rhythm with the song in my mind while we hold a conversation. i do this, all this panicked rejoicing and wonder, while i'm talking to you. i may seem distracted, and i am, to a certain degree, but it's because i can't stop paying attention. i used an ancient bridge to cross a river tonight. so simple, so easy. three homeless bundled up against the winter sting, ignored by the forests of busy legs around them, and the wrought iron bridge covered in forgotten padlocks of memorable loves. while gauging the speed of the wind from the east on my cheek and keeping track of three brief bites of conversation and plowing through my memory bank to see when and where i'd last seen those same homeless sleeping bags, i wondered how many people were aware of the science and the math that they were walking upon, right then, that kept them, reliably, suspended above the water.
these moments are all precious. i don't take this life for granted. and i don't want to be told i should feel a certain way, or behave a particular way, because the calendar says so. the way i don't mind other people practising their own religions, i don't mind other people belonging to the calendar club. but that's simply not me; it's not who i am. i am a farmer, i am a soldier. i am not an artist, but i do hope that by the time i die i feel everything there is to feel. i don't need a clock or a calendar to do that. the sun rising, the seasons changing, the pace of trees. i can feel all these things, these natural forces, with my body's senses. i can see the soil and the effort within it and breathe it in. i can smell the grass and smoke. i can hear the breeze refreshing the trees. i can taste the sun.
as for people, i have met people my own age who i could never be old enough to know completely. and i have felt a love that never knew what date it was. and besides, in our time among each other, there is more concealed than there is revealed. walking the canal tonight, with the greatest album in the world pouring its rare treat in to my ears -- indeed a reason for living, all its own -- i passed a man who was clearly holding a hard case with an instrument inside: an electric guitar. this music in my head, the most special thing i have ever found on this whole earth so far, and when i pass this music maker we don't meet eyes, we don't touch at all, we simply see and know and walk on by.
we are shrinkers of the very planets of our selves, in near-constant collision with all these other worlds.
i suppose we need it to be that way. and if there is something truly worth knowing, worth feeling, worth discovering in the connection between myself and another human being then i of course hope to discover it one day, to know it, to feel it, to wonder over it while it happens, while it is. but for now, i just want my farm, with a bit of land to tend to, and some pets to take care of and keep me company, and all around the pace of nature, with the passage of each day within each season an adventure all its own -- every day an orchestra that requires occasional conducting, a battle that is itself worth fighting for. it's what i've always known and always wanted, beyond my destructive daily wish for death since youth. beyond that veil of surrender back into non-existence, i only want that little farm, out in a plot in the mountains, making a map of stars erased by every dawn. you see, every comment i make about needing coffee, about being late for work, every snide suggestion based on the movement of a woman's ass, every giddy recitation of my favourite line from a film, every time i hang my hat on this unpoetic design of empitness, it smacks me like the taste of a known poison, it hurts as much as "happy birthday." it is a mistake i know i'm making while i make it; a departure. it is, at its simplest, an abomination that would make my old youth -- who was happy, even if so hungry -- simply ashamed.
so instead of wishing me happy birthday, if you know me at all, please just wish me a happy cabin, a happy farm up in the hills. is it lonely living out there? no, not at all. it's fine. but being told that you're a grinch because you don't want to celebrate christmas, that you're a sour old grouch because you don't want to celebrate your birthday, that you're an impossible old fart who only cares about himself just because you don't feel like -- and never have felt like -- joining this massively popular calendar club, that is the lonely bit. if you know me at all you'll know how selfish i am not, and how deeply and intensely i can care for you. i simply don't want to join the religion of calculated time. it doesn't suit me. i hope you understand. please come visit me in my cabin whenever you wish, and teach me what you've learned.