Today’s my birthday. I’m seventy-two, which on my planet seems extremely strange since I believe I’m actually in my thirties … but I digress.
Anyhow, I’ve gotten heaps of lovely birthday wishes from friends all over the planet. I wanted to comment on an oddity in that regard. I keep seeing the following meme in various guises:
For me at least, that’s total hogwash. Maybe I didn’t pay attention, but I can testify that I didn’t learn much in kindergarten. Care to know where I learned all I really need?
From my family and my friends.
For starters, I learned a whole lot from the four main women in my life—my grandmother, my mother, my gorgeous ex-fiancee, and our daughter. Those four put me on the right track and keep me on it. Here’s an example of how that works these days. My gorgeous ex-fiancee says:
“How does some popcorn sound?”
I say: “Hey, that sounds good!”
“Sounds good to me too”, she says, “how soon can you make it?”
My daughter, on the other hand, specializes in the look that says what she used to say out loud to bring me back to earth but no longer needs to vocalize, which is her famous line:
“… in your dreams, Dad …”
Then there are my brothers, men I’ve fought with and fought for during my entire life, good men who taught me a lot. And of course, I’ve learned heaps from all of the cousins, nieces, nephews, inlaws, and outlaws that make up the rest of my family.
Next in line regarding people I learned from are the women I’ve lived with during my wandering peripatetic life. I can’t thank you enough, y’all are awesome.
Following them on the list are all my shipmates, male and female. Going to sea with someone, whether it is for fishing, for boat delivery, for diving, for surfing, any time spent on the water with shipmates is always a time when I learn something.
Then there are my friends who are people of color. In Fijian there’s a lovely term for mixed race people—”kai loma”. “Kai” means people, and “loma” means the center of something. In addition to all the usual things I’ve learned from people of color and from people of the center, I’ve also gotten lessons in how to live in a world that thinks skin color and such things actually make a difference … big props to them all for meeting the hatred of occasional fools with joy and laughter. Well, most of the time at least, and you can’t ask for more than that. Y’all have been an inspiration to me.
I can’t forget my friends from high school. I went to a school where kids cared about each other, and we’ve maintained that throughout the years. To all of you, my great thanks and best regards for a lifetime of friendship and support.
Finally, there are all of the rest, folks met once on a freight train but still remembered, Facebook friends, people I lived with in the LSD house in Hawaii, workmates in dozens of businesses, and all the friends, lovers, and good folks I didn’t mention above … your laughter and support is and has been important as well.
Anyhow, I just wanted to appreciate those folks who wished me well for making it to three score and twelve, because all I really need to know I learned from my family and friends. You all have my profound thanks for your endless contributions to my life.
Best to each of you on a gorgeous clear night, and hey, happy birthday to me!