MY UNBIRTHDAY

Today is my Unbirthday, all day long, that I may extend into tomorrow and who knows? The future is wide open and waiting to be lived. Today I celebrate me and the gift of living, and it’s so good to be alive.

Each morning about 4:30 my cat gently climbs up onto my bed and snuggles up against my back. Where she got that habit from, I don’t know, as I took her in as a refugee from the animal shelter. They said she was a feral cat but I could see she never was, she just didn’t have a good home or a good life. Now she does and she shows her appreciation for being appreciated.

By 5:30 to 6:30 I’m up and about, the time depending on when I get up, simple as that. Life is good. By 6:30 it’s just barely beginning to get light, and that’s by Pacific Standard Time. I never did set my clocks back to Daylight Stupid Time, why bother? They’ll all agree with everyone else’s clocks again before too long. One of these days the sun will be higher overhead again and I’ll be back to getting up at 5 to 5:30 again and getting the most of the morning, because by noon it will start to be too hot to be out in the sun.

Each day I hike the hill behind my home. It’s steep and rugged and covered in all manner of trees and brush, and yesterday morning I found a reason to not do that hike. It rained that morning and by the time I returned home, the soles of my shoes needed to be relieved of a few pounds of sticky mud about three times during my hike. Rainy days are days off now.

Life can be rough even if we don’t try to make it so.  I have a lot of spinal degeneration in my back and neck from the ruptured discs, which mostly were caused by my hang-glider accident, although a few other falls didn’t help much either. Years ago my doctor sent me out for x-rays, and the verdict was that an operation had a 50%  chance of leaving me paralyzed for life. He advised against it, but he didn’t need to. I opted to live with the pain, and it was a good choice. Since then I’ve built four houses, lots of outbuildings, rebuilt three houses, travelled all over the United States and the world, done so very many things that I could never have done from a wheelchair.

The thing about pain is, you get used to it, it fades into the background, you can ignore it entirely and live pain-free even though it’s there. Because it doesn’t matter. What matters is making the decision to focus on the joy of living instead of the sorrow of pain, and I choose joy.

I have other physical defects caused by the act of living. My left lung is partially collapsed and has been that way for nearly fifty years. Both lungs are terribly scarred as well from bouts of pneumonia, industrial pollution, smoking and asbestosis.  Old age hasn’t brought any improvements to the situation, either, and I could dwell on that stuff and complain about my aches and pains, and no doubt some people will be sooo sympathetic and commiserate with me about it all, and share tales of their own splints, casts and groans of agony. That’s because some people never learned to be grateful for the wonderful gift of life.

Today I celebrate my life. Who do I thank for it? I have no religion, no set of Holy Rules set down by Sacred Priests who dictate How I Should Live while they don’t. I never did suck up superstition, which is another wonderful gift that living has given me, because I came to experience the reality of Something that ignorant people only believe in and worship and make up songs and sermons about and pretty stained glass windows, and make wars over, and kill each other over, and cut off hands and heads and feet over. And a lot worse. I never would have found out, if I was a superstitious, believer type like my parents.

What a lucky person I am! To still have strong life within me while so many I knew have spent their energies and are gone. When my turn comes, it will be with gratitude for having ever been here at all, gratitude to Life for it’s gift. I’ve stood at the end of a rainbow and been surrounded by brilliant color, something only a few of us on the planet have ever experienced because according to all the rules, it’s impossible. I became a student of Zen Buddhism and experienced deep satori, and saw the Oneness of all things.

I’ve been to the depths of despair and pain and risen to the heights of exhiliaration and triumph, and found the center in between.

My life is a celebration of life. Yours should be too. Complaining about the hardships and miseries that we all share does not elevate you. It doesn’t bring you any joy, any happiness, any peace of mind. What it brings you is other people full of sadness, hate and despair. It brings you whiners who might make you feel worse than you did unless some of them are so much worse than you that you feel something positive in the comparison.

One of the things I learned from that Zen enlightenment is that we live in two worlds simultaneously and both are real even though neither is. The truth of Unity is seen only by a few, while the deception of Duality is practiced as reality by all of us. I practice it, after all, how would I communicate with others if I didn’t agree that this is good and that is bad, that the one is up while the other is down, and there are different degrees of better and worse?

When the truth is that none of that is true. There is no good or bad, up or down, black or white, better or worse. Those are all creations of thought. Without thought, everything is the same. The Universe doesn’t think. Trees don’t think, rocks don’t think, a glass of water doesn’t think and what people call God doesn’t think. We think, and our thoughts shape our reality to suit us, which is why everyone’s reality is different from everyone else’s.

Living in both worlds at the same time was a challenge that’s taken me a lifetime and it’s sure had it’s ups and downs. Or should I say it’s Bads and Goods. See what I mean?

Celebrate your life. Every day is your Unbirthday, give yourself a gift today, be glad to no one that you live, just be glad, that’s all. Do it every day, and you’ll gift yourself with humility, happiness and get closer to your center each time. Every day is your Unbirthday, celebrate it.

3 Responses to “MY UNBIRTHDAY”

  1. Ernesto Ribeiro says:

    Absolutely Zen.

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    Totally agree.

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    My Yoga master also teached that to me.

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    …and my depressed (and disappeared) female friend ask told me something barely like that:

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    “Ernesto, how can you live so conscious and ANGRY, without SADNEES and DESPAIR Why are you so GLAD? Why do you looks like a boy? I think you create a BUBBLE around you. Yes, a bubble, surrounding your feelings. You seems be anestesyed, or someting…”

  2. Black Sheep,
    Great post! We do need to focus more on the joy of living. Sounds as if you’re getting quite a bit of that joy.

    Right now, I’m on Thanksgiving break. No classes to teach next week! Maybe I can manage to have some unbirthdays, too.

  3. PALADIN says:

    For me life is a philosophy of K.I.S.S. ( keep it simple stupid)
    I don’t chase the temporary anymore….money, material, booze, women, etc.
    I like the simple ! a good cup of coffee, a good horse, fresh air, scenery.

    The only things in life that really matter when ya get right down to it is true friends , family, and your faith.
    Sounds to me like you’ve found the secret Bud.

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