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a bit more than 2/3 of a century, otherwise not a particularly significant number.

Or even a significant age.

Except as of Midnight, that is how old I am.

Another year gone by, another year  begun.

Having spent much of this past year "retired" I have had more time than in the past to reflect, to wonder, to wander, to read, to listen to music, to let cats crawl all over me.

I have experienced the immediate fears we both felt when my wife was first informed about her cancer - which the original belief was a metastatic organ cancer.  We have adjusted to the reality that even the far more treatable blood cancer represents to both of us.

More than anything else, at least since January 27, that has been the dominant thing in my life.

But now?

I have already lived far longer than i expected.  My father lived to 83, my mother only to 47.  I am more than halfway between their life spans.

I know I am aging.  It is harder to take off weight.  I tire far more easily.  I have trouble getting to sleep.  Arthritis in a few spots is perhaps the least of the ongoing ailments with which I have to deal as my body begins to wear down.

Because we do not have biological children, I look to the future in a different way than perhaps I would were I a parent.

I have known loss - one cousin has passed away, before he reached the age I now am.  Classmates and acquaintances, and many four-legged friends.

And yet, I find my life is not defined by its narrowing;  it remains pregnant with possibilities, some of which i could not have until recently ever imagined.

I have never bothered with a bucket list.

I view life as a journey, a pilgrimage if you will, on which along the way I have begun to realize that the journey is at least as important as the destination.

I do not yet know the destination, because I do not travel towards a specific end.

I know that at some point I will pass from this life.  How and when I neither know nor am I any longer troubled thereby.

My task is far simpler.

Did I find an occasion to make the world in some way a better place today?

Did I in impatience or selfishness pass up an opportunity to ease someone's pain, to provide a moment of support, of affirmation?

What new thing did I learn today?  

For better or worse I am a teacher.

On Wednesday I was the guest "lecturer" for those who teach the Frontiers class, the mandatory freshman seminar, at Goucher College near Baltimore.  I spoke from the perspective of someone who has been teaching high school students, they questioned and spoke from the perspective of what they are attempting to do to transition those young people into the different kind of learning expected at a liberal arts college.  

We dialogued.  They questioned, sometimes i questioned back. I shared and asked it if made any sense.

We co-learned.

Life remains a co-learning process.

Today is a birthday.

Today my wife will surprise me with where she takes me for dinner.

Today I will do many ordinary things, like cleaning cat pans and paying bills.

Today i may remember other birthdays.

Today is a special day - not so much because it is my natal anniversary, as it is another day to learn, to experience, to share the joys and sorrows of others.

I will receive birthday greetings from many.

To our cats, they won't recognize that the day is special, except insofar as I let them have more time crawling on me.


It is a prime number, the last such birthday unless I reach 71.

My life continues.

I acknowledge the milestone as i travel past it.

Tomorrow will be the first of 364 consecutive unbirthdays.

Each day will be a new adventure.

Each day will be yet another opportunity to learn, to experience, to teach, to experience, to wonder.

I have had 67 years of life.

I have experienced more richness than I can justify - literature, art, music, nature, friendships, love.

Whatever sorrows I might be able to list are more than outweighed by the joys of life that are they - they are enjoys if I allow myself to enjoy them, if I accept them for what they are.

For the past few days I have not felt much like writing.

As this past year came to a close I wanted time and space to let it be, to process it, to reflect even without words.

I find words inadequate for how blessed I feel.

So instead let me offer two things, one long, one short.

First, a complete Opus 111 performed by Richard Goode - I can sit through this entire performance and at the end not really realizing that I have been breathing

And to end, it has to be Bach, but in this case something I have not performed, but have loved since I first heard this recording growing up

And with that, i wish myself a very happy birthday, in which you are welcome to join.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (35+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:01:20 PM PDT

  •  Howya doing old fart? Best 2 you & yours (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tovan, greengemini, melvynny, mrsgoo

    are you going to stick some candles in a cake later on?

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:06:57 PM PDT

  •  Well, h*ll, you're younger than I am. (5+ / 0-)

    I've always looked up to you as the mature person in the room. I may have to re-evaluate;-)

    Happy birthday!

    Tired of being trickled down on?

    by tovan on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:21:38 PM PDT

  •  Happy Birthday (5+ / 0-)

    Your wife got lucky the day she met you--as did we all.

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

    by melvynny on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:26:44 PM PDT

  •  Happy Birthday! I will wait another 2.5 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steveningen, greengemini, teacherken

    hours before I {{cough}... celebrate turning 53. Tomorrow's celebration includes heading to the Delta Protection Commission meeting and arguing the case for a actual two lane road to our recreational business. But hey! You take your fun where you can.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:28:07 PM PDT

  •  Cheers! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, leighkidd, teacherken

    Happy Birthday, Ken!

    -5.38, -2.97
    The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

    by ChuckInReno on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:28:42 PM PDT

  •  Happy Birthday, Ken (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, teacherken

    Thanks I always enjoy your diaries!

    "Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" Will Rogers offering advice to the Republican Party.

    by NM Ray on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:28:53 PM PDT

  •  happy bithday! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, teacherken

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:31:59 PM PDT

  •  Damn kids. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, Steveningen, teacherken

    Happy birthday, and 67 isn't so bad. Seems kind of young to this 72 year old.

    Severely Socialist

    by ichibon on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:32:51 PM PDT

  •  Happy Birthday, Ken! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm coming up fast behind you, having turned 66 at the end of April.  I can really relate to this diary.  I love your posts--I always learn so much from them.  You're my idea of a great
    teacher.  May you have many more birthday celebrations to come!

    We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? --Wendell Berry

    by deeproots on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:38:14 PM PDT

  •  Our Position Is Not Our Fault. (0+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:53:24 PM PDT

  •  Many happy returns of the day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, teacherken

    Going to the market without the chance of getting hit by a meteorite is an exponential thing at our age. You have 17 years on me, but I smoke. And there are so many meteorites out there.

    Hubby and I are both listening to the glistening Beethoven you chose for the party.

    Now go bust open your piñata.

    Happy B-day.

  •  good luck to you and your wife (4+ / 0-)

    I lost my wife last month after 7 years of her being ill.  I hope your wife experiences a complete recovery.

    I would offer the observation that it seems age brings with it the true cost of our earlier life and experiences as it seems my body is now a decade older than its chronological age and I contemplate the dozen medications I take each day to continue toddling along.

    I would also observe that even with age, we remain phoenixes and resurrect ourselves even with age.  For myself  I am allowed one free course at any state university and am considering going back to school.  I am also considering signing up for substitute teaching and getting back into teaching albeit in a diminished role, if I have enough stamina.  A foray into Home Depot today prostrated me

    •  sorry for your loss (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know if I could sit through a complete formal course.  I do expect to always keep learning, although often simply by systematic reading.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu May 23, 2013 at 03:46:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Happy B-day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    May you have many more and keep on posting....enjoy!

    Give peace a chance get up and dance... Alvin Lee/Ten Years After

    by Blue Collar on Wed May 22, 2013 at 11:20:20 PM PDT

  •  One of the things you have taught me, teacherken (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (or at the very least reminded me to remember) ---

    Life remains a co-learning process.
    Thank you so much, and a very Happy Birthday to you!
  •  Happy birthday, teacherken! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Today I celebrate an Unbirthday (which is actually a grand idea since there are many of them). I turned 60 in March.

    Saw my first Luna moth a few mornings ago. First of the year for me. This is what I appreciate.

    Best wishes for you and Leaves.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Thu May 23, 2013 at 01:35:40 AM PDT

  •  They are now 3-D printing real body parts. (0+ / 0-)

    Livers and ears and maybe more.  Who knows, in 10-20 years you may be able to 3-D print a new version of yourself; maybe including your consciousness...if you can hang in there till then.

    Hey, I'm already for Warren/3-D Print of Warren for 2016.

    Anyway, happy birthday.

    What would Mothra do?

    by dov12348 on Thu May 23, 2013 at 01:43:23 AM PDT

    •  I think one of me is more than enough (0+ / 0-)

      yes there are parts of my body well worn down.  I have gotten my use for much of it.

      So long as I can still read and can still hear music est is genug.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu May 23, 2013 at 03:48:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your words show me yet again why I take issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, DaNang65

    with the 'Developmental Stages' or 'Tasks' models of life used in nursing as applied to elderly adults. (And, semi-ironically, put forth by an 'Erik Erikson')

    (A snippet from '')

    8. Late Adulthood: 55 or 65 to Death

    Ego Development Outcome: Integrity vs. Despair
    Basic Strengths: Wisdom

    Erikson felt that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage is recovering from it. Perhaps that is because as older adults we can often look back on our lives with happiness and are content, feeling fulfilled with a deep sense that life has meaning and we've made a contribution to life, a feeling Erikson calls integrity. Our strength comes from a wisdom that the world is very large and we now have a detached concern for the whole of life, accepting death as the completion of life.

    On the other hand, some adults may reach this stage and despair at their experiences and perceived failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering "Was the trip worth it?" Alternatively, they may feel they have all the answers (not unlike going back to adolescence) and end with a strong dogmatism that only their view has been correct.

    The significant relationship is with all of mankind — "my-kind."

    Erikson says, and most nursing students are taught that the elderly are essentially merely 'coming to grips' with their past choices, and developing an 'acceptance' of their impending deaths.

    I reject this notion, and you offer refutation thereof.  I find it dysfunctional and nihilistic.  As you note, the focus of a life lies in the living, and that means looking for "finding an occasion to in some way make the world a better place" each and every day we are alive, no matter our chronologic age.  If a person had not 'found a purpose' before then, it's never too late to start.

    Nursing homes should not be waiting rooms to Death, but hives of measured activism.  Freed from the requirements of the job market, but perhaps physically constrained, the mind should still be engaged and determined to continue to make the world a better place.

    •  yesterday when I was young (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, DaNang65

      is what I called this tribute to Charles Aznavour, which I posted yesterday on the occasion of his 89th birthday.

      He is still performing.

      I have known people who were old at 17.

      I have been fortunate to encounter those still vigorous and youthful at 80.

      One reason I want to return to a classroom with adolescents is that it keeps me alive.

      Truly alive.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:55:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Happy birthday and love & light to you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and Leaves.  This is a busy week, my sister had her second breast removed prophylacticly.  Lots of driving as she's an hour away. She was Stage 4 and dying 7 months ago.  Chemo, radiation and an intense program of supplements, diet changes, meditation, and releasing of self-blame have put her into miracle cure category.  Her doctors hope she'll write a book to support cancer patients actively healing their bodies in support of medical interventions.  Path report from tissues in both (former) breasts shows no cancer.  She's receiving Herceptin therapy every 3 weeks until January.  Her oncologists will call her cured then.  Cured.  It's been a wild ride for all of us, and a triumph for her.  She wasn't looking for miracles, just for ways to love and support her ailing body as it fought for life.  Your post reminded me of her attitude and outlook.  Keep learning, keep open to the next step on the path, keep reaching for more love and less anger.  Thanks for being a teacher and a wise elder for all of us.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:53:52 AM PDT

    •  no claims to being a wise elder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I love OCD

      merely a fellow traveller on the pilgrimage of life willing to share and to listen

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:04:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  happy birthday, teacherken, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    may you and your wife have days and years full of music, love and time to reflect ahead of you.

  •  Happy Birthday, teacherken (0+ / 0-)

    Blessings to you & Leaves.

    The Girl Who Loved Stories
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:46:12 AM PDT

  •  Happy birthday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and enjoy your evening. All the best,


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