I’m no angel. I’ve done plenty of things in my life I’d rather not remember: foolish words, rudeness, missed opportunities — there’s quite a list. I imagine everyone has such a list.
What distresses me though is that these actions and events pop unbidden into my mind at odd moments.
Now, I’m no devil either. I’ve done plenty of things I should remember: given time or money, love and affection. I’ve helped friends and strangers, achieved goals, won awards, applied myself diligently to projects.
It’s strange though that those things never suddenly come to mind. I wonder why it is that we so easily recall those things we’d rather forget and yet have such difficulty remembering that which we should be proud of?
Today I celebrate completing 54 years of life. I’m entering into my 55th year.
I’ve enjoyed the good wishes of friends, but don’t feel inclined to partying, or even going out for dinner.
I realised I wanted to find some more meaningful way to celebrate the anniversary of my birth than simply by spending money.
The other night I googled ‘how to celebrate a birthday’ and came to a Jewish website that said:
Birth is your beginning. It is a window to the chance of a lifetime, the chance to fulfill your unique mission. So a birthday is a momentous occasion, to be commemorated just as a nation commemorates its birth or as an organization celebrates its founding. Still, it is much more than an occasion to receive gifts. It is a chance to remember the day that a major event occurred, to celebrate and give thanks and to reflect upon how well we are fulfilling our calling.
That should be simple, eh? You’d think that there could be at least one highlight for each year of my life. In fact, after day or so of thinking, I now have 33.
I’m sure that if I were to compile a list of embarrassments I’d be well into the hundreds by now …
Still, I shall persevere. I’m excavating the sludge of my memory and items are being revealed. It’s like an archaeological dig.
I have no intention of publishing my list. It’s for me, an aide-memoire. But I think I could do well to recall that not everyone has a university degree, for example, or for that matter, good friends. I once cycled from London to Edinburgh: that’s quite a thing to do, and it was definitely a highlight of my 20s.
I just hope I can achieve my goal of 54 items. And that by this time next year there will be many more than 54.
Note, I was intending to look out an older photo of myself, to attach to this post. My cat Ares, though, has been missing for several days, so when he turned up I just wanted to grab a quick photo without disturbing him. That also meant I couldn’t go and rummage round in boxes of photos. That’s why the (rather poor quality) picture I’ve used here is of him. Anyway, he’s one of the highlights of my life. By the way, the vet has told me before now that the discolouration in Ares eye is normal with ageing.