A Very Merry Unbirthday
Dear English-B Interpreter Friends,
(First, my letter to you to using words from Post #16)
I’ve been musing on birthdays and anniversaries and celebrations. My own birthdays have always triggered an odd sense of detachment and nervousness because the plethora of communication wishing me all the best (though heartfelt) simply overwhelms me. On the other hand, I have always relished the actual celebration (the party, the drinks, the dancing, the conversations, the laughter). My internal disconnect: I get skittish about calls and cards and gifts but I truly enjoy the parties and commemorative dinners I occasionally host.
A recent celebration (someone else’s, thankfully, where all I had to do was show up and be happy, a perfect situation indeed), prompted me to rack my brain (presumably the neurons that had not been drowned in the prior evening’s libations) for a logical explanation for this seeming contradiction within. I concluded that relentless communication has left me (and doubtless many of you) flustered – those day-in, day-out phone calls, voice mails, e-mails, e-cards, social-media messages, text messages that go endlessly, endlessly, endlessly on. As well intended as birthday tidings may be, I now understand that the fact that they come in diluvial fashion is what befuddles the type-A, clear-out-the-inbox, check-off-the-to-list side of me. But the birthdays themselves, like anniversaries, holidays and all celebrations, are such a magnificent way to mark the passage of time. So I also understand that it is the genuine rejoicing that courts the type-B, sensorial, creative, happy-go-lucky, let-go-and-feel-the-music side of me.
As I sit here ironing out (read: more e-mails and phone calls) end-of-the-year travel plans (which include a number of birthdays in the extended family, holidays, rituals both religious and secular, and welcoming the new calendar year), these perceptions of requirements versus revelry seem piercingly relevant. And bowing to optimism, I am quite content thinking on the essence of festivities, hoping I can learn to better accept the mundane, and trusting that the grandeur of time, ritual and celebration ultimately prevails.
*** To celebrate the life of Oliver Sachs, who passed away yesterday and who recently published a short piece on ritual, the Sabbath, and his time and place for ritual and for rest, here are five words (in befitting context) to bring into the booth: