Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Occasion

Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.
-Dustin Hoffman
in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

My birthdays have always had two faces: significant and disappointing. Deeply so. Even as a child. With each passing year, I greet that April day with profound wonderment. Each is a gift. How blessed am I to have been given another year? I wake with this joy and then stumble into a regular day with a crummy cake and signed, pre-worded cards and think, I hate normal, unremarkable birthdays. They seem so... ungrateful, somehow. Why don't we truly celebrate our day more? And why don't we do more rejoicing in each other's days?

I can't say why, but sometimes I wonder if I don't have long here. My mother calls it morbid and scolds me, but there it is: sometimes I think I hear my clock ticking. It wasn't until college that I first recognized the sound. I've doubted - in frantic, terrifying moments- that my next birthday would even come. I'll spare you the melodramatic specifics and recounts of close calls. Suffice to say that I've rounded corners and nearly crashed into Death head-on. We eye each other and slowly back away, me triumphant and him burning with the knowledge that he can't touch me until it's time. And neither of us wears a watch.

Our lives are such occasions. Why don't we do more rising to them?

I was thinking tonight, before giving up on falling asleep, that I'm so torn between the world I see with my eyes and the world I see with my faith. As quickly as I'm ready to go, I'm also itching to stay. I close my eyes and think of my hands... the gardens they could plant and the instruments they could play. I think of my feet and the continents they could walk and the aid they could rush to. I imagine my voice and the songs it has yet to sing and the languages it has yet to speak. I think of my heart and the stories it has left to tell and the love it has yet to give. I think of my ears and the voices they have yet to recognize and the call they have yet to hear. I think of all this and I realize, once again, that these days add up to a glorious occasion and, whatever time I have left, I must hurry and greet it.

George Sanders. Remember him? The British man notable namely because he killed himself in 1972? Claimed on his suicide note that he was "bored". I truly can't imagine. Did he never pass a beautiful, unopened door? Did he never wonder what was behind it? Did no one ever tell him that his life wasn't an accident but an occasion? That he should rise to it?

I wonder, if we were to truly celebrate our birthdays - ours and those we love - how different our lives would be?

Have some exciting plans for mine this year. Silly, perhaps, but plans nonetheless. Because as it turns out, I'm in the middle of quite an extraordinary occasion and I must rise to meet it....