This is my birthday. Today, I am 60 years old. You may congratulate me for making it this far.
I kicked off the day’s festivities by cleaning up cat feces. We’d locked a cat in the kitchen last night by accident, and she showed us, as they will, why that was a foolish thing to do.
Later in the morning I swabbed down the bathroom and the kitchen with a vile peroxide cleaner. Rhumba and I came down with noro virus — “the stomach flu” — last week, and I wanted to decon the house so that our visitors don’t get it. Not that we have a lot of visitors, but noro can stay live on hard surfaces for months.
All this work took place in slow motion because, although noro leaves quickly, it takes all your energy with it.
But, y’know, that’s life. After 60 years, I should know what life looks like, what it does. It shows up for you every day. You deal. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. Find the right people to be with, and you don’t mind so much when it’s not fun. I found one of those, and she found me. Thank God.
Have I achieved great things with my 60 years? Written best-selling novels, traveled the world, graced the covers of national magazines, made millions in the stock market? Not so you’d notice. And it has bugged me more than a little bit, because somewhere I picked up the idea that I should achieve some fame-worthy thing, or life is worth nothing.
Ideas like that keep you from being happy. Took me awhile to figure that out, but hey: I’ve had sixty years. I still strive at my personal projects; it’s the striving that’s valuable, that makes you grow. As it turns out, I’m actually rather averse to fame.
After I battled noro with spray bottle and paper towels, a still-ailing Rhumba and I went out to visit a friend briefly. We then spent the rest of the afternoon in a deserted coffee house over Assam tea, discussing life and politics and particle physics and Donald Trump (who crosses all three topics) as the sun’s rays sleeted through the windows and lit every individual item in high relief. Even the napkins. Have you ever examined a paper napkin in very bright light? It’s like looking down from orbit at a metropolis designed by cubists.
We went from there to my birthday dinner at a modest Italian restaurant where the food is inexpensive, simple, and of exquisite flavor. Italian is spoken on the premises. It’s a wonder of the world, or at least of mine. Rhumba and I clinked glasses and grasped each other’s pinkies, which is our way of saying “I love you” without actually speaking.
And now I’m writing this at 10:30 at night in my environmentally-friendly chiropractor-approved leather easy chair. Time to feed the cats, go to bed, and get ready for a day in the office earning more money for cat food.
That’s my day. That’s life. There are pros and cons but: all in all, a good thing to have had sixty years of. I’ve told the universe that I plan on having more years, thank you. It dare not disobey.
And life goes on. Good.
Congrats on the first sixty, Jim. You’ve attained a great prospective on life during that time; much better than most. You can’t believe how much is still ahead of you, I hope there are many more years to come.
Thanks very much, Forrest. I certainly do look forward to the future. There’ll be challenges, but what’s new about that? Hope all is well with you.