A day between

It’s my birthday. I used to celebrate how much like everybody else I thought I was. It was a hypocritical celebration, because in fact I’ve always thought I’m extraordinary. The ‘joy’ in being like everybody else is mainly my desire to be ‘good’ – to say, in effect, I may be confounded by all these other people, but my heart remains with them.

Today, I’m celebrating just being here, period. I do feel good today. The summer is wearing on, and I am an extraordinarily lucky man.

I’m lucky because I’ve been jolted hard enough to force me out of any recognizable shape. I think there’s a core shape to most people; an experience with an outside they don’t reach.

It can be fairly obvious when someone has to earn money. ‘Having to earn money’ is more than just a political leaning, it’s a whole set of gut realities that overwhelm any real ideas about alternatives. For very many people in this country, ‘having to earn money’ is the whole size of the human being.

For many more there’s the shape of dependence on someone else. I forget nearly half of us don’t earn anything at all. These generally don’t bite the hands which feed them. Often, whole families are bound to a single thinking, as the way they’ve always survived.

But I was uprooted from one place to the next. I’ve lived outdoors in the wind and inside next to the hearth. I remember counting pennies to make it through dinnertime tomorrow. And I’ve been disappointed by the flavor of five dollar tomatoes.

I’ve been here long enough to have earned my keep, so to speak. I can feather my bed for a while longer, if my head stays in it. Or I can drive off and park next to the creek. The afternoon sunlight is brilliant against the rocks.

 

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