Happy 42 to me!
by Stan Faryna
Rush, Time Stand Still
This 22nd is my birthday. I’ll be 42. My heart trembles – but for no good or bad reason.
Life is not treating me more kindly (or unkindly) than it does. I have much that I am thankful for. I count many friends as the gifts that they are. And, yes, I grieve for as many disappointments and losses.
I am even thankful that I can still be mistaken for a 20 something by a 20 something hottie every now and then. But that fortune is owed to my mother- some say that she was still a hottie at 50. But for the record, mom now looks like a stylish, young grandma these days.
This birthday, unlike other birthdays, comes with more unanswered questions, disappointments, and hope than others. Ok, 30 was full of disappointment, anger, self-defeat, and existential angst.
At 30, I was neither a saint nor a millionaire. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have children. But I still had time, vision, ambition, and unstoppable passion.
I’m not sure why 42 is bugging me – like a big, puppy-ish dog scratching at the door to get in out of the rain.
It could be that a Chinese fortune teller (looking as old as an ancient dragon) stopped at my table in a Los Angeles China Town restaurant. They made the best Chow Fun ever.
I was twenty. He told me that if I can make it to 43 (which he said was very unlikely), I will enjoy a life, command, and fortune like a king. I ignored the free fortune (misfortune) and haven’t thought about it until this week.
How the hell does an insignificant memory like that come up out of nowhere!
There was another unsolicited fortune (another fortune teller but also Chinese) that forewarned my mother that I would go through hell for three years (39-42) and be reborn as a Phoenix.
Fortune tellers, psychics, and reiki-people make for strange company. You never know who they are working for -especially Chinese fortune tellers. However, I can say that I recently dumped about 200 pounds of expensive, rare, and useless Feng Shui crap as an act of spiritual purification. Feng Shui is idolatry.
42 is also the meaning of life, everything, and the universe – if you fan Douglas Adams. [laughing]
But if 30 was for the examination of accomplishment and defeat (and proved me lacking), twelve years later, I don’t feel that I have overcome the sucking that is mine.
Twelve years later, I’m neither a saint nor a millionaire. I’m divorced and my ex-wife doesn’t allow me to be the daddy that I want to be for my son.
My ex-wife, however, is a millionaire thanks entirely to me. Of course, she’ll spend it within a few years and end up in a terrible way. And, yes, I’ll be glad and sad to hear about it. I’ll be sad for my son – just to be clear. Because she will sell off everything that I intended for him. I had piled up a modest inheritance for him.
Do I still want what I wanted? Do you still want what you wanted?
Do we still serve the ghosts of previously and long-ago discharged masters and demons?
If I do not want what I wanted, why should I carry the weight of disappointments for things that no longer have meaning to me?
The wants have piled up like a mountain of dirt over these years. Broken hopes and disappointments sparkle across that mountain like so many shattered beer bottle left by careless tourists and weekend environmentalists.
I’d like to come down off this broken mountain.
I’m not complaining about my lot in life. It has been very good and very bad. I am impatient, however, for enlightenment – which I use with certain dismay but also lacking a better word.
20 years ago, I finished my undergraduate thesis, Finis Humanevitae. Roughly translated from the Latin: Human Destiny or, more poetically, the good end to which our humanity seeks. The implicit conclusion of Finis Humanevita was that for us, truth, beauty, and goodness live in spontaneous, consistent, and emotion-filled moral action – not opinion, knowledge, or understanding.
Living it has been a long and unsuccessful struggle. It seems to be a never ending story.
I would like to walk beside still waters and lie down in green pastures like it is written in Psalms 23. I would not like to harden my heart, to have no peace, or to speak harsh words with an impure mouth as the complaint is leveled in the book of Hanokh. I would like to walk with God like Enoch as the story is briefly told – just like that – in Genesis 5:24.
Solomon gave a clever reply when God asked him what he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom and he received wisdom, wealth, power, and glory. Among mortal men, there will never be a greater king than Solomon.
Thomas Aquinas, however, was so clever that no human reply will ever be more clever than his. When God asked him what he wanted, Aquinas replied, Thee. And he received God and everything that is good, true, and beautiful.
This birthday I will not wish for the same-old; the usual suspects and contradictions. They always come with mixed results. I have asked for them for the last twelve years: a Ferrari, heavenly commissions and blessings, and, above all, a pure heart.
I have wished so fiercely for these paradoxes that they have become constant companions. It will be hard to let them go.
On this birthday, I wish for God, to walk with God, and to speak with him. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful. It removes considerable responsibility for which I never had the power, wisdom, or grace to bear.
I will make this wish knowing full well, as C.S. Lewis observed, man’s search for God is equivalent of a mouse’s search for the cat.
If you are so moved, say Happy Birthday to me here on my fundraiser blog post. $5 would shake my heart like a long, square beard shaking with joy and kind laugher: http://wp.me/pbg0R-sv
19 October 2011
P.S. I am unlikely to be online on my birthday. Maybe, a few check-ins at best. I’ll put some time in at church. In prayer. Then, I hope to spend as many hours as I can with my boy, Johnny. That will exhaust me completely.
1. Why do I blog: http://wp.me/pbg0R-kX
2. If Tomorrow Was Your Last Day: http://wp.me/pbg0R-la
3. Money Can’t Buy Happiness: http://wp.me/pbg0R-lv
4. The First Duty of Love is to Listen: http://wp.me/pbg0R-lO
5. Are You Ready for Love? http://wp.me/pbg0R-lX
6. Reading The Desiderata. http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr
7. What is Love? http://wp.me/pbg0R-mw
8. Confessions of a Freak-Geek-Misfit. http://wp.me/pbg0R-nJ
9. Do you love strongly? http://wp.me/pbg0R-nY
10. Empty-handed, Less Traveled Roads. http://wp.me/pbg0R-on
11. The Economics of Friendship. http://wp.me/pbg0R-oU
12. Do Not Be Afraid. http://wp.me/pbg0R-p9