Chronicles in Ordinary Time 159: Birthdays

the force isn't with you
The Force Isn’t With You… [Django Boletus Photography]

I’ve been to Chicago, and I’ve been to L.A., more than 2000 miles all the way… but I’ve never been by way of that Route with which I now can be associated…

I’ve never been fond of birthdays; I don’t really know why.

However, I appreciate every one of you who have sent birthday greetings to me. The longer I grow, the more the presence of people in my life, means to me. I am by nature, a-social; I’m completely fine on my own, without being interrupted by people. ‘Family’ has always been a challenge, and I don’t feel that I do it as well as I should. The same applies to those friends who have become like family…

This birthday is more difficult than many have been; I am saddened and frustrated by all of the anger present in our society; and the cruelty that we as a nation visit upon others, seemingly with no regard to the fact that we all share the same DNA. Below the level of the skin, we are exactly the same as each other person of our gender; with minor differences, we are exactly the same as any other person on this planet. I have trouble distancing myself from the cruelty; a mentor of mine suggested that the pain I feel is simply a part of the pain that the Creator feels over the mess we foolish people have made of the joy of living.

Some of you are aware that I have a ‘degenerative sensory neurological disorder of unknown origin’. Starting in 2009, I began a series of ‘re-calibrations’ to “new normal”. The muscles mostly work the same; nothing feels the same as it did for decades. I’m in the midst of ‘re-calibrating’ again, learning which strange sensations I can ignore, and dealing with sensation I’ve newly-lost. I’m thankful for a skilled physical therapist I don’t listen to as well as I should.

To help wash out my brain, Judy and I went to see ‘Would You Be My Neighbor?’ yesterday. I recommend it to everyone. I was never a big fan of the television show, but I appreciate the incredible gift Fred Rogers was to generations of children. Mr. Rogers believed that television could be an incredible means of educating children; a tool that has been poorly used for nearly all of television’s history. Television in the 21st Century is primarily a tool for consumerism, as it has been since television started; Mr. Rogers realized that it could be so much more.

I carry around a small notebook, one that I used to be able to write legibly in; I used it for capturing thoughts I read in various places in my life. While I still carry the notebook, the document is now about 70 pages of letter-sized sheets. I spent the last half-hour or so trying to find something with which to close.

We can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life…  Surely this bond of common fate, surely this bond of common goals, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at the least, to look around at those of us, of our fellow men, and surely, we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Robert F. Kennedy








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