I get to sing that Beatles song all year…Will you still need me, will you still feed me…
This is my first “Facebook birthday”. It is amazing to receive greetings from dozens of Facebook friends from around the world, as well as from close to home. Some of the greetings are from people I’ve never met personally. This spontaneous outburst of communications from so many otherwise unconnected individuals demonstrates the virtual community that has been created by the Facebook phenomenon. Thanks to all of you for your kind expressions!
I’ve spent the day alone so far. Susan is in Sacramento, attending the Healing Journeys convention (a conference dedicated to cancer survivors). She’ll return this evening in time to go out to dinner with friends. Being alone gave me time for reflection and indulgence in the absence of any pressing responsibilities…All in all, a great leisurely way to spend a birthday.
Last night I was invited to accompany a couple of friends to a baseball game by our local minor-league team, the Reno Aces against the Sacramento River Cats. (Reno won, 11-7.) The team has been playing for several years in its new stadium located a short drive from our house. But I had never attended a full game until last night. (Several years ago, I witnessed the beginning of a game after having performed the national anthem together with three other saxophonists in a special arrangement by our lead player.) Besides never having previously attended a game, I’ve never attended the Burning Man Festival, an annual counter-culture arts event that I would probably really enjoy. It seems that I’ve always been busy doing something else on the week of the festival. (This year it was the Frank Sinatra Jr. show.)
After sleeping a little late, I indulged in my newest lifestyle improvement, inspired by our recent trip to the Middle East, of squeezing fresh orange juice. My first outing of the day was to go shopping at the farmers’ market, a weekly summer ritual. After buying beautiful peaches, plums, grapes, and vegetables, I returned home to find a large bag of peaches left on my doorstep from a neighbor’s tree.
A common weekend ritual for Susan and me is to watch recorded broadcasts of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, perhaps the world’s best orchestra, through their fantastic website, www.digitalconcerthall.com. Today’s concert was a live broadcast, which gives one a special feeling. The program was all-American, featuring works by Gershwin, Ives, Antheil, and Bernstein. The finale, the Symphonic Suite from West Side Story, (one of my favorites) afforded me the opportunity to get in some music practice by turning up the volume and playing along on my flute and clarinet. It’s difficult to carve out enough daily practice time, so playing along with the Berlin Philharmonic was a great way to keep my chops up and sharpen my ears (since I “know” the music but had never played it before).
Stepping out into the back yard, I saw my first falling autumn leaf. Without getting too metaphysical about it, on a birthday such as this, one could interpret that as a sign of the approaching autumn of life. This raises questions, such as:
What do I want to do with the rest of my life?
What do I want to do that I haven’t done (e.g. which new places to visit)?
What special thing have I done before that I’d like to do again?
How can I pack more meaning into every year, every day, every minute?
A favorite uncle of mine used to say, “Every year of my life has been better than the previous one!” I loved his positive attitude toward life, and I think he profoundly influenced me, along with the primal influence of my parents. Another wise man once told me, “You always have time to do what you really want to do!” This truth is in conflict with many of my best intentions. But the reality is the truth…What we do is who we are, whether our lives are driven by conscious choices or not.
As I write this, it’s late afternoon September 8, 2012. This short essay is an expression of my intention to share the pleasures of the day and the thoughts that accompany one’s birthday. Ultimately, it’s just another day. Life is lived one day at a time. I wish all of us many more great days.