Alles Geben…

I’ll be honest. I’ve been feeling pretty oorie about my upcoming birthday, but like many other kinds of dread, once it’s upon you it’s pretty OK. Also, remembering that I share my birthday with the happiest little dog on the planet helps, too.

It’s funny how we are, but I know that some of the dread is linked to the heightened awareness of how close we are to the end of the story. That leads us to wondering if we’ve done anything worth doing with our 3 score and 10. The pope coming out and saying people who opt for pets over children are “selfish” didn’t help. (Ha ha). How would he describe himself and all the other celibate priests and monks and nuns, etc.? Are they excused? How does that work?

I still don’t know and probably will never know if I did good or not. I’ve pretty much toddled along with the idea that not making things worse was the best I could do. I’m hopeful I’ve succeeded in that. Anyway, it’s a self-indulgent preoccupation, regardless how normal it is.

In book reading news, after reading a wonderful book, I picked up (ie. opened my laptop to) another eBook and found a morass of intellectual density, a textbook no kid would ever make it through, written by a retired professor of some stripe or other. My English teacher brain kept yelling at him, “Where’s your thesis statement!!!” I finished evaluating the book, losing an hour in my ever shortening life, and opened another — also by this author. Well, it turned out to be as inscrutable, dense and oblique BUT the subject interested me. I can’t judge a book on that, but I was inspired to look up a term the author had defined because I wanted to know more. Guess what? The definition offered in the textbook was word-for-word from Wikipedia. OK, the question is, “Did the author write the entry in Wikipedia or copy it?”

I breathed a deep sigh of relief because I don’t have to find the answer to that. I don’t have to do anything. The book wasn’t going to win any prizes anyway as readability and value to the audience are two important criteria.

What was the term? It doesn’t matter. My exploration led me to conclude that the word refers to something indefinable, so what’s the point? As I was thinking about it, I thought of how poor old God in Deuteronomy attempted to get the point across to Moses and couldn’t. “God, here’s the deal. Those Hebrews down there are a very skeptical lot and if you don’t give me a name for I’m not going to get anywhere with these stone tablets.”

It seems that in our need to communicate with each other we have invented language, and over time we confuse our terms for the realities toward which they inadequately gesture. OH well. It’s a poor worker who blames his/her tools. At least we have poetry.

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, and then closes
Within a dream.
Ernest Dowson, ‘Vitae Summa Brevis’.

Photo: Smiling kid, my cousin, Linda. In the high chair, me, age 1. Behind Linda, Aunt Martha, Aunt Kelly (Linda’s mom) in the middle, my mom holding a gift. It was a puzzle, I mean the gift not the entire future. 😉

25 thoughts on “Alles Geben…

  1. Happy, happy Birthday Martha and Teddy! Funny you mention about the heightened awareness on our birthdays. When I was given my cancer diagnosis, I just wanted to live longer than my mother did with her cancer. And I did. Every birthday after that is like one more little gift. My dad’s side lived very long lives with dementia, so maybe I get a bit of both. Long life and cancer? What a gift, eh?

    • I get it, Lois. My dad was Mr. Carpe Diem since he knew he would have a short life. Elizabeth says we’re not old. We’re chronologically gifted which is absolutely true. ❤

  2. My hubby has his 70th in a few months, he seems to have this idea he won’t be about much longer! It’s because he has PTSD. I keep reassuring him he’s going to be around a lot longer x. 70 is just a length of time not a sell by date!

  3. When I question the part I have played in this world and I start to think I could have done better, I look at my dog who loves everyone he meets, my youngest son it the type of Father to my granddaughter that all kids would be lucky to have and I think. M’kay. I’ll keep going.

  4. Happy Birthday Martha.We never know how long we have. Mr Swss has deteriorated considerably and we take one day at a time. He can no longer walk so well and I have now organised our wheelchair for him. But enough of these depressing thoughts. Enjoy the wonderful place where you live, your houds and your books and keep painting.

    • ❤ I think of what you and Mr. Swiss are going through many times throughout the day. I wish I could at the very least give you a hug. Life is so strangely unpredictable and totally predictable. What you say about enjoying my Valley, dogs, books and paintings is the wisest advice in the world. ❤

  5. I’ve not known you very long; but during this I’ve learned you. And you’ve taught me. To me it seems you “gave everything” and you still give well. Which precious pup shares a birthday? I love your picture. the ladies look so sophisticated and beautiful. You’re so precious looking up at your Aunt Martha and Linda looks fun! Much love from Finn and me on your 3 score and 10. I wanna be there as good as you one day. 🤍💛🐶 P.S. Finn is sending tail wags and smiles to the two birthday humans!!

  6. My hubby turn 80 at the end of Feb and is still quite an active reader as well as book-keeper. However, when I see him out shovelling snow I do think about that 80-yr-old body. He doesn’t give a lot of thought to physical limitations yet, I don’t think. 😉 My brain has suffered the ravages of chemo-therapy and there seem to be holes here and there… 😦

    As to your “morass of intellectual density,” I get it. I volunteered an informal critique on a work like that — at a site for peer critiques among wannabe writers. No one else was giving much critique, so I tried. This piece was fiction, very difficult to untangle and understand, but I offered a few comments, adding that though highly educated readers would follow it, to appeal to the average audience the writer should gear it down some. I’d been told the average Reader’s D article is written in Gr 6 English.

    Boy, did I get a pointed reply. I’d given a badly worded critique, wrong advice, and if people read his story they might actually learn something and up their reading skills a bit, thank you. (The fact that very few were going to take the time to slog through his story hadn’t crossed him mind.)

    • I think there are a lot of motives for writing. I think it’s important for a writer to be aware of his/her motives and who the audience is likely to be. Arrogance in an artist is just kind of creepy, really, as if the world owes the artist something for having made art. It’s a weird conundrum. My books are well-written but I know they will never have a large audience because of what they are. It’s OK with me. They have to be what they are. Some of the negative critiques I’ve gotten are based on the critic wanting my book to be something else. That’s not on me; that’s on the reader. Negative criticism based on THAT isn’t negative criticism at all and it isn’t helpful. But when someone says I could write something more clearly and tells me how, I listen. That is helpful, very helpful. It’s why I hire an editor. ❤

      • I’ve said before, one of the best, clearest books I ever read, Life on the Refrigerator Door, by Alice Kuipers, was written in short sentences, as if notes between a mother and daughter. Agreed about determining your audience and writing to them.

        I believe it take humility and a long-range goal (wanting readers of all sorts to understand this story) to accept criticism. And, as you say, the wisdom to sift the critiques, “useful” from “not so.” If we have the attitude — as I certainly did when I started — that “My work is as clear as it can be and if you don’t understand that’s your lack — we won’t gain the tools we need to polish our work. As I recall now, this writer’s bio said “a retired psychiatrist,” so definitely a Uni level thinker.

        Happy birthday, by the way. Wishing you a glimpse of the new horizons and new projects waiting down the road.

        • Thank you, Christine! ❤

          Often under-perceived or valued in critiques of work is personal taste. I'm really lucky in my little job as a judge that the rubric I go by has questions that allow me to suspend what I like and focus on the work I'm evaluating. One of the books I just judged? Personally, I hated it from the first sentence but I'm not its audience. Its audience definitely would NOT hate it. 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday!! It seems it is in human nature to at some point become aware of our mortality. I’m not anxious for that moment but by the same token I don’t have any control so I just do it day by day. Yes I make plans but I also just savor the gift of a new day. (though today I’m feeling a bit under the weather – it must be the cold at minus 4 F). I hope you and Teddy have a wonderful day and don’t worry about having done enough or making a mark on the world. It is the hearts you touch that count!! ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. I guess all priests are selfish? I know people who became parents who shouldn’t have done so. Having the wisdom to make that decision is way more important than what the decision is. Funny that 50 years ago there was a movement toward zero population growth (and called that – ZPG), when many feared we were near earth’s carrying capacity for humans (and the human population was less than half what it is today). Now we are being chastised because we could reach that goal. We wondered when we would reach earth’s carrying capacity for humans, or if we already surpassed it. Now it’s apparently no longer an issue, being a foregone conclusion that we will destroy the planet, I guess.

  9. I’ve often wondered the same. Isn’t it interesting that every human on earth wonders their purpose and if they’ve fulfilled it? And more interestingly, what it might be?! Still, in my old age, I’ve learned (too late) to treasure each day and what it offers. Wisdom is wasted on the young, isn’t it? lmao

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