09 June 2012


If you believe in Chinese astrology – which I don’t, or any other form of astrology either – I was born in the year of the Water Dragon.

According to Water Dragon, Inc. – is there anything for which there isn’t a website, or a company? – here’s what that means:

“In Chinese element theory, water produces wood, which signifies growth and is the natural element of the dragon. The dragon governs east/southeast, wealth accumulation & the hours of 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. Associated with thunder, lightning and arousal, the Water Dragon personifies creativity at its best.”

In spite of what that would seem to imply, I’m generally not all that interested in love- or money-making between seven and nine a.m. I need my coffee first. (I do enjoy the occasional good morning lightning and thunder storm.)

I do also like to think of myself as creative, though, and I am usually at my desk by eight a.m. at the latest.

So I’m turning 60 on June 20th. If I believed in all this astrology nonsense it would be the second most significant birthday of my life. (The day of my birth, obviously being the most important.) I suppose 120 would be up there, too, but I am unlikely to be around to enjoy it. In rough, realistic terms my glass is probably no more than a quarter to a third full anymore.

It seems as good a time as any for a bit of introspective reflection on where I’ve been and where I’m going.

It’s been a very good life, remarkable even. I have been extraordinarily privileged thanks to the very good fortune I had to be born when and where I was and to my particular parents.

I haven’t cured cancer or stopped hunger or been the cause of peace breaking out anywhere. But I do think I have managed to get some small amount of good stuff done in both the public and personal arenas. (Undoubtedly some bad stuff, too, on the personal level but hey, in his private life even Gandhi was no saint.) I am confident that there are some people whose lives have been improved by some of the things I’ve done. There are fewer who, maybe not so much – but they’ve got over it.

Don’t worry, I have no intention here of listing what I think of as my accomplishments. Though I do take pride in enough of them that I feel I’ve made an adequate, even if not herculean effort to live up to what I regard as my responsibilities to our planet and the people who inhabit it. I have every intention of continuing those efforts.

I have, however, like most people with the financial and physical ability to do so, made a far greater effort toward indulging my whims, interests and urges over the years. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve notable success at that.

Judge it, if you want, as you will. It has all made for a very enjoyable, satisfying life so far, one that I’ve happily shared with family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers.

If someone were to tell me that I was going to die tomorrow I’d be disappointed. There’s an upcoming trip to Tijuana and another back to Mississippi that I’d sure hate to miss. I still haven’t got to Tierra del Fuego or Kamchatka or the Carpathian Alps or Ethiopia. But I wouldn’t think it was really all that premature. I have lived the hell out of the life I’ve had and I intend to keep doing that as long as I can.

So, happy birthday to me. Thank you all for helping to make it so enjoyable getting to here. I’m looking forward to more of it.