Happy Birthday, Yog. Allen Howland would have been 56 years old today.
“’But it isn’t easy,’ said Pooh. ‘Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”
― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
“Promise you won’t forget me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
Time is never constant, as this past year will attest.
It seems like only a very short time ago that I was remembering Allen’s birthday and here I am again doing the same. He would have been 52 today. “Six years older than dirt” I called him one year, to which he replied absolutely without hesitation: “Hello, dirt!”
I’ll be 46 in less than three months.
Last year a fractional second of a glimpse of a tilted sidewalk in Charlotte Amalie on a travel show on television sent me reeling, bouncing off of long ago memories like so many walls in a mental maze I was just coming out of.
This year I soar above the confusion with a firm grasp on the whip of the kite and the maze is just a garden of hedges down below and the horizon is Over There and Over There and Over There and from here there is no behind me except to take this little bit of time to remember my Yog, my Allen.
The world is not how he left it. Some things are better and some are far worse. My world became less when he left it but I, merely in continuing on, have added so much, aiming for resplendence even as ugly, profligate smallness and intransigent immaturity found its way in from the outside threatening ruin.
But Jubilee is only for those who aren’t dragged down by the past, but it’s not for those who ignore or avoid it either.
We are who we were and who we are and grow to include who we’ll be and it’s that splendor that defies physics and makes us bigger on the inside than on the outside and allows us to accommodate the joyful sorrows of the past, put to rest the ignoble brutalities which victimized us and tried to steal our souls and keep us open to…well, exactly!
Birthdays bring gifts, but Allen was always a gift to me, even on his own birthday.
So yesterday I turned 44. I went hunting for various meanings of the number and came up with two: about twelve years ago, Apple renamed the (butt ugly, PC-looking, metal-beige, garbage-y) PowerMac 4400 for Australia because it seemed that 44 was an unlucky number, or had some other kind of negative cultural baggage attached to it. Think Chevy Nova selling in Spain: Chevy No Va (translation, roughly: “It does not go”).
The other employment of “44”—this one metaphysical—is Hexagram 44 of the I Ching:
So, cultural el mundo malo or ominous-yet-spot-on instruction? Me, I’ll always go for the learning.
Yesterday as I sat down on Ronald’s sofa with a large (closed) drawing pad beside me, Ronald emerged from his last session, excused himself for a few moments and urged me into his office. I didn’t dare open the pad because I had other things to talk about first. It was a therapy session after all.
Ronald showed up with a small decorative bag in his hands; I didn’t notice until after he’d shut the door and sat down, but it’s all such a wonderful space to be in and that bright, sheeny gold and copper sac with a yarn pull ending with a beautiful tassle was just par for the course: it belonged.
Ronald handed me a foil-wrapped package first: “Birthday Brownies” he said, smiling. Usually I don’t very much like being stuck for words, but there in that place, and he, there in that place, I could do nothing but let the silence of inability echo itself out. Then he handed me that sac. I hesitated to open it because customs differ, but he quickly encouraged me to do so.
Let’s go back a week: I had emailed Ronald asking him where he got his teas from, the ones he has out and available in his waiting room. He emailed me back, but I never got around to going to get them (lazy bastard that I am).
I’d asked Ronald last time to schedule me sometime yesterday, April 3, because I wanted to spend some part of my birthday with him. No more and no less. His company, his sage advice, the organic silences he allows to ripen on the vine; and for that matter his simple kindnesses and general spirit, altogether: a safe haven for The Sea Child, if for just a litle while.
Litte-whiles are important, but the levels of their importance is solely up to you.
Be warned: stay too long an you’ll lose a limb; little-whiles make no promises.