2.2 Jesus Birthday

Birthdays change over the years. When you were a little kid, it was the most exciting day outside of Christmas. You were proud of getting older, entering the double digit age meant you had been around for a decade, and technically had enough time to do something meaningful. The shine was wearing off already as a teenager. Age afforded more freedom but with limitations: 13 brought puberty, 16 the ability to operate a motor vehicle and at 18 you could be charged for a crime as an adult. My physical education teacher told us a man’s sexual peak was 19 – it was all downhill from there. During the roaring 20s, birthdays become more independent – events spent with friends. You had a quarter life crisis at 25, think you were smarter and more experienced than you really were and generally lived like your age would never have numbers greater than 26, 27 or 28. 29 came along and with it, the realization that in less than a year, you would be 30.

Honestly, this wasn’t a big deal for me. I wanted to get older and being in the third year of my third decade suited me just fine. A friend of mine said turning 33 was my ‘Jesus Birthday’, referring to the one and only who gave up his life for the sins of man. Through very reliable sources, Jesus was crucified when he was 33 years old. It’s obviously not fair to make comparisons – he accomplished much more than I have so far – but at least I have the advantage of time and living past 33 years old.

My Jesus Birthday made me wonder who else shared this day with me. I was born on the same day as my grandfather – that’s good timing. I do remember celebrating with him and they are good memories. Other people born on January 6: The French painter and sculptor Gustave Doré (1883) – no relation, Sherlock Holmes (1854) – even though he’s a fictional character, the mystic poet Khalil Gibran (1883), writer Alan Watts (1915), former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (1926) – considered the ‘Nelson Mandela of Asia’, former Pink Floyd front man Syd Barret (1946), Mr. Bean Rowan Atkinson (1956) and a baby lion-tailed macaques (1989) at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

Historical events that occurred on the aforementioned date include: The first telephone message from a submerged submarine (1898), Maria Montessori opened her 1st Montessori school in Rome (1907), New Mexico became the 47th state (1912), Thomas Edison submitted his last patent application (1931), the daily newspaper comic strip ‘Superman’ debuted (1939), George Bush married Barbara Pierce (1945), The Beatles album ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ hit #1 (1968) and daylight savings time commenced nearly four months early in the United States as a response to an energy crisis in 1973.

All in all, not a very exciting day, one that is often overshadowed by Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

There was one day, one fateful January 6th, that lives on in history. In 1994, at the United States Figure Skating Championships, a competitor left a practice and was clubbed in the knee with a collapsible police baton. Nancy Kerrigan screamed in pain, “Why! Why! Why!” It was a scream heard around the world. As the conspiracy behind the attack surfaced, it was revealed that Tonya Harding – Kerrigan’s rival – was involved, along with her ex-husband and bodyguard. This would be the height of Harding’s career, after she retired from figure skating, she released a sex tape, started a band (The Golden Blades), dabbled in professional wrestling and appeared on Celebrity Boxing in 2002.

I am looking forward to getting older and wonder what meanings will be found at 40, 50, 60 and 70. This might be unusual but there is wisdom that comes with age. Yes, there are physical problems or health issues that arise, but as long as I can keep learning new things and experiencing situations previously unknown, what more can a person ask for?

In the novel White Noise, by Don DeLillo, the main character’s aging father comes to visit. Before he leaves, they find him sitting alone in the front seat of his car. I don’t know why I always remember this passage, it discusses and talks about things in a way that is both direct and indirect, explains everything but nothing at all. This is what he said:

Don’t worry about me. The little limp means nothing. People my age limp. A limp is a natural thing at a certain age. Forget the cough. It’s healthy to cough. You move the stuff around. The stuff can’t harm you as long as it doesn’t settle in one spot and stay there for years. So the cough’s all right. So is the insomnia. The insomnia’s all right. What do I gain by sleeping? You reach an age when every minute of sleep is one less minute to do useful things. To cough or limp. Never mind the women. The women are all right. We rent a cassette and have some sex. It pumps blood to the heart. Forget the cigarettes. I like to tell myself I’m getting away with something. Let the Mormons quit smoking. I’m all set incomewise. Zero pensions, zero savings, zero stocks and bonds. So you don’t have to worry about that. That’s all taken care of. Never mind the teeth. The teeth are all right. The looser they are, the more you can wobble them with your tongue. It gives the tongue something to do. Don’t worry about the shakes. Everybody gets the shakes now and then. It’s only the left hand anyway. The way to enjoy the shakes is pretend it’s somebody else’s hand. Never mind the sudden and unexplained weight loss. There’s no point eating what you can’t see. Don’t worry about the eyes. The eyes can’t get any worse than they are now. Forget the mind completely. The mind goes before the body. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. So don’t worry about the mind. The mind is all right. Worry about the car. The steering’s all awry. The brakes were recalled three times. The hood shoots up on pothole terrain.